Orange Presbytery

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This Day in Presbyterian History: 

The Patriarch of the Pulpit Patriots

How many pastors have you known who had a price put on their head by the national government?  Such was the case with the Rev. David Caldwell of North Carolina during the Revolutionary War in our country’s fight for independence.

David Caldwell was born in Quarryville, Pennsylvania in 1725.  Reared by two godly Presbyterian parents on a farm in the County of Lancaster, he would receive one of the most extensive educational experiences of that day.  First, he sat under the Rev. Robert Smith’s classical school in the county.  Then he attended the Rev. William Tennent’s Log College, where he also met some of the great revivalists of the First Great Awakening in America, men such as George Whitefield, Gilbert Tennent, and Samuel Davies.  His last educational experience was with the College of New Jersey.

There was no hesitation then to his being licensed by the Presbytery of New Brunswick in June of 1763 and ordained two years later in 1765.  Later, an entirely new presbytery, Orange Presbytery, was organized in 1770. By then, David Caldwell was the pastor of two Presbyterian churches at Buffalo and Alamance Presbyterian Church, in North Carolina.  He would remain the pastor of these two churches for over fifty years.

It was from his ministry in the pulpit that during both the Revolutionary and the War of 1812, he didn’t hesitate to look upon both wars as biblical wars against the British government.   Consider words such as these in a sermon on Proverbs 12:24 “The slothful shall be under tribute.”  He said, “If we act our part well as men and as Christians in defense of truth and righteousness, we may with the help of the Lord obtain a complete and final deliverance from the power that has oppressed us.” (Southern Presbyterian Leaders, by Henry Alexander White, p. 162)  Whereupon he joined the American army along with most of his congregation.

In this whole ministry, he had the help and support of his wife Rachel, who was herself the daughter of a New Side Presbyterian minister, named Alexander Craighead.  Married for sixty years, they ministered side by side, especially in the Log College which David had begun in the area. It was a classical Christian school, like those he had attended in earlier years.

He would go to be with the Lord on August 25, 1824, remembered by countless whose lives he had touched with the Word of God.

Words to live by: The cause of independence must be defended at the cost of life, fortune, and sacred honor.  David Caldwell would have his plantation burned, his books and Psalm books destroyed, his sermons defaced, a price put on his head, and forced to live in a swamp for safety.  His wife Rachel of sixty years would be treated harshly, being evicted from her home and forced to live in a smokehouse with their children with only dried peaches to eat for several days.  In times of trouble, God watches over His children.

Through the Scriptures:  1 Chronicles 10 – 13

Through the Standards:  The reason we are to pray in Christ’s name.

WLC 181 —  “Why are we to pray in the name of Christ?
A. The sinfulness of man, and his distance from God by reason thereof, being so great, as that we can have no access into his presence without a mediator; and there being none in heaven or earth appointed to, or fit for, that glorious work but Christ alone, we are to pray in no other name but his only.”

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This Day in Presbyterian History:  

A Little Known Truth

Only a short period of time after the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America had passed that political resolution in 1861 about support for the Union and  President Abraham Lincoln, the southern commissioners returned to their  homes and churches.  It wasn’t long in coming, but on June 16, 1861, Dr. Jacob Henry Smith stood up in his presbytery, which was the Orange Presbytery, and proposed that steps be taken to begin a new Assembly.  By December 4, 1861, that new assembly was known as the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America.

Jacob Smith, with such a common name as “Smith,” was an uncommon man.  Born in Lexington, Virginia in 1820 of Scotch descent on his mother’s side, and German descent on his father’s side, he joined the membership of the Presbyterian Church of Lexington.  He studied at Washington College in his home town, and later, believing that God had called him into the ministry, completed his studies at Union Theological Seminary.

Entering the pastorate at Pittsylvania Courthouse in Virginia in 1846, he labored there for four years before becoming a headmaster at an academy in Halifax County.  The Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville, Virginia from 1854 – 1859 next enjoyed his preaching.  Many souls entered the kingdom of grace under his ministry.

His  last congregation was the Presbyterian Church at Greensboro, North Carolina, where he labored for 40 years until his death in 1897.  Despite the civil war which raged for the first five years of his pastorate, the Word of God was not bound in any way.  Ten members went into the pastorate, including three from his own home.  It was said that he was a home in the pulpit and a model of a great preacher of the Word.

Words to Live By: Dr. Smith might have been recognized in church history  for his wise counsel to begin what later on became the Presbyterian Church of the United States.  But there was more to this fearless pastor of the Lord.  He was remember best as an expositor of the Word.  And having said that, there really is nothing else to be said, except for you reader to pray much that the challenges of each week in your pastor’s life might not hinder him from preparing adequately for the proclamation of the Bible.  That is his most important calling in life.

Through the Scriptures: 1 Kings 5 – 7

Through the Standards:  The moral law binds everyone to obedience of it

WCF 19:5
“The moral law does for ever bind all, as well justified persons as others, to the obedience thereof; and that, not only in regard of the matter contained in it, but also in respect of the authority of God the Creator, who gave it.  Neither does Christ, in the Gospel, any way dissolve, but much strengthen this obligation.”

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