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chisholmWHWilliam Hugh Chisholm was born February 1, 1894, in Emerson, Michigan, to godly parents, Hugh and Mary MacLennan Chisholm, who had immigrated to the United States from Scotland, bringing with them that Scottish Presbyterian background. Despite difficulties connected with his father’s health, William managed to attend the University of California and later the University of California Medical School. He graduated in 1921 and did his residency in San Francisco. Then by the summer of 1923 he had been appointed a medical missionary to Korea under the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.

In trying to select even just one short story of this amazing life, I am guided by the realization that Dr. Chisholm’s life was, more than anything else, marked by believing prayer. And so today we will recount something of William’s college years. It was during those college years when a “nobody” in the eyes of the world entered his life–a man named Mr. Stout. A number of students would go to his home for Bible study and prayer. They loved and respected this man, for they could see he was mighty with God, a man of prayer whose prayers God heard. One day the thought passed Will’s mind, “I bet Mr. Stout is praying that I will be a medical missionary.” He felt quite indignant and his first impulse was to go and ask Mr. Stout to stop praying! Then on second thought he said to himself, “I can’t call myself a Christian and ask a man to stop praying for me.” Knowing the power Mr. Stout had in prayer, he then said to himself, almost dejectedly, “I just wonder if I won’t end up on some mission field because of this man.”

Through the fellowship of this wonderful man, Bill learned to pray. He started praying for his pastor, an unbeliever in a modernist church. Some weeks later this man received Christ as his Savior, openly rejected the unbelief he had been preaching, and came out totally for Christ and the Word of God. Other wonderful answers to prayer were experienced at this time.

Skipping ahead in Dr. Chisholm’s story, in September of 1923, Dr. Chisholm and his wife sailed for Korea, and in October they arrived in the small city of Syen Chun near the Manchurian border, where they were to labor for many years in medical missionary work. It was not long before Bill realized that he had come to an impasse. The senior missionary did not believe in any Gospel preaching in the hospital; instead, good works were to lead the patients to God! Again Bill went back to God in prayer, saying, “Lord, open up a way to present the Gospel to these patients.” Shortly thereafter that senior missionary came down with an acute pain that could not be diagnosed and he had to return to America. Thus this obstacle was removed and Bill had free course to give out the Gospel!

Words to Live By:
chisholm_bookThere are many, many more stories concerning this amazing life of this medical missionary. His was truly a life marked by prayer. Upon returning to the States some years later, Dr. Chisholm authored a book, titled Vivid Experiences in Korea. If you can find or borrow a copy, it is well worth the reading. A few copies show up on the used book market from time to time.

God tells His people to call upon Him. He tells us to come before His throne with our needs. And He promises to hear our prayers.

“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jer. 33:3).

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. (Matt. 7:7)

[Dr. Chisholm died on September 17, 1977. Our account today is freely adapted from portions of the eulogy delivered in memory of Dr. Chisholm by Dr. Louis M. Barnes at the Valley Presbyterian Church in North Hills, CA on September 20, 1977.]

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A Presbyterian Physician Who Signed

He has a number of “firsts” associated with signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 4th.  He was the only physician who signed that historic document.  He was the only Presbyterian signer who was born in America. He was the first professor of Chemistry in America at the Philadelphia College. Who else can claim to have cured an epidemic of yellow fever in Philadelphia? He was considered the father of American Psychiatry.  He was a founder of the Philadelphia Bible Society. Who was he? If you answered Benjamin Rush, pat yourself on the back.

Born December 24, 1745 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, this fourth of seven children into an Episcopal home, he often went with his mother after the death of his father to Rev. Gilbert Tennent’s congregation in that eastern Pennsylvania city. Benjamin’s mother, under the latter’s influence, reared her son in Calvinistic principles. He memorized the Westminster Shorter Catechism in his youth.

Early education was provided by Rev. Samuel Finney, later a president of  the College of New Jersey.  Indeed, after training at West Nottingham Academy, Benjamin studies and graduated from the College of New Jersey in 1760.

On January 2, 1776, Rush married Julia Stockton, the youngest daughter of Richard Stockton, a fellow signer of the Declaration. They were married by the Rev. Dr. John Witherspoon, president of the College of New Jersey and a fellow signer of the Declaration as well. On July 4, 1776, Benjamin Rush placed his signature on the Declaration of Independence. Indeed, he followed up that action by serving as a physician with the Continental Army, and in combat at  Trenton and Princeton.

Later in the 1780’s, the good doctor and patriot persuaded his fellow Presbyterians to establish Dickinson College, in Carlisle Pennsylvania.

We must acknowledge in this essay that while he received much training in both youth and adulthood, his convictions about Presbyterians were more passive  than an active following. That  would explain how he later on in life transferred his membership to the Episcopalian faith and even some branches of the Universalist church before finally coming back to the Presbyterian faith. Still in all of these moves, there was a love for the Bible, which he read daily, an esteem for Christ, to say nothing of Christian conduct. He would often mention the name of Jesus Christ in his writings, lectures, and letters.

He passed away in 1813 and buried in Christ church cemetery.

Words to live by:  There seems to be no doubt that Benjamin Rush was a consecrated Christian, albeit there were times when he disagreed with denominational figures.  Still the training he received as a youth had a way of coming back into his life and making an impression there for true doctrine. This should encourage all Christian parents to both teach and live Christ, and Hims crucified, before their families. God is faithful, and will bring fruit, although it may be long in coming to our children.  See Proverbs 22:6.

Through the Scriptures:  2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation 1

Through the Standards:   Times of judgment

WLC 88 — “What shall immediately follow after the resurrection?
A.  Immediately after the resurrection shall follow the general and final judgment of angels and men; the day and hour whereof no man knows, that all may watch and pray, and be ever ready for the coming of the Lord.”

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