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MRS. ANNIE EDGAR RANDOLPH
[excerpted from The Missionary, 35.5 (May 1902): 225-226.]

This beloved missionary, whose name has long been a household word throughout our communion, entered into rest in the early morning of Sabbath, March 23, in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Thus one of our pioneers has gone from us, the story of whose life is almost that of our foreign missionary work itself.

Annie Edgar was born on this day, September 14, in 1829, at Union, Monroe County, Virginia [now West Virginia]. At the tender age of fifteen she united with the Presbyterian Church of her native place, and soon afterwards there sprang up in her heart a desire, never to be quenched, to serve her Lord in some heathen land. But she could not obtain the consent of her widowed mother, and thus her early purpose was postponed for nearly thirty years.

In 1850, when only twenty-one, she was happily married to Dr. Thomas G. Randolph, of Hopkinsville, Ky., and the following year they removed to Mobile, Ala. In the autumn of 1853 Mobile was visited by a fearful epidemic of yellow fever. Mrs. Randolph was stricken among the first, in September, and her husband only a day or two later. He soon died, while she was desperately ill. When she awoke to a consciousness of her great loss, the blow was almost more than she could bear; but God had yet a great work for His young and now widowed handmaiden, and He mercifully raised her up from the very gates of death. It is touching to know that only a little more than a year ago, when nearly half a century had passed, the long bereaved wife made careful arrangements to be laid to rest beside the dust of the husband of her youth.

When strength returned after her illness and sorrow, Mrs. Randolph first repaired to her husband’s relatives in Kentucky, and then to her mother’s home in Virginia. A year later, in the fall of 1854, she returned to Alabama to teach. For a number of years she did an admirable work in Gainesville, in antebellum days one of the most cultivated and refined communities in Alabama. After the lapse of thirty years her memory there is still as ointment poured forth. The late Dr. C. A. Stillman, one of the ablest men of our church, was then her pastor, and he ever afterwards held her in highest esteem. In 1868 she returned to Kentucky, settling in Paris, and there in the fall of 1871 the call to her life-work came to herthe call that she had heard in her girlhood, and whose echoes had never died away in her ears.

In January, 1868, Mr. and Mrs. Inslee, then our only missionaries in all the far east, had opened a boarding school for girls in the great city of Hangchow, China. Returning to America in the fall of 1870, Mr. Inslee died in New Orleans, April 8, 1871. Meanwhile, the China Mission had been reinforced by Messrs. Stuart, Houston, and Helm, three young, unmarried men. Consequently, an earnest call came from China, in the autumn of 1871, for a competent lady to come and assume charge of the girls’ boarding school. Mrs. Randolph, now at the age of 42, at once answered this call, having first conferred with Dr. Stuart Robinson. Her offer of service was accepted, and under appointment of the Executive Committee she was in Lousiville, February 15, 1872, ready to depart with the Rev. Hampden C. DuBose and his bride, who were also under appointment to the China Mission, but terrible snow storms so impeded travel over the new Pacific railway for weeks that not until April 15 were they able to set out for San Francisco, when, in company with a large company of other missionaries, they sailed on the steamship “America,” May 1st.

With her usual punctuality and system, Mrs. Randolph at once began a valued series of letters to The Missionary, a series only to be terminated twenty years afterwards, when broken health compelled her return. Her earlier letters are still exceedingly interesting, revealing the matured, noble traits of her character.

Her party arrived in Shanghai June 4, 1872, and five days later, June 9, they were in Hangchow. Mrs. Randolph at once assumed her new duties as principal of the girls’ boarding school, a position she was to fill with preeminent success and faithfulness for the next sixteen years. On entering the school she found as her native assistant that remarkable native Christian woman, Ah-tse, whose name nearly a generation ago was so familiar to readers of The Missionary. She also found among the pupils a no less remarkable girl, Ahmun, afterwards Ah-tse’s daughter-in-law, and the gifted and devoted companion and helper in the school, both to Mrs. Randolph and Mrs. Stuart. The affection that grew up and ever after existed between Mrs. Randolph and this lovely young Christian Chinese woman was touching and beautiful, and just as she was leaving Japan in 1892, Mrs. Randolph mourned her early death as if she had been her own child.

After sixteen years of devoted toil Mrs. Randolph’s health was so impaired that in 1888 it became needful to seek relief in Japan, and in the fall of that year she was regularly transferred to the Japan Mission. At first, for a few months, she conducted a class of women in Bible study; but in the summer of 1889 she opened the now well-known girls’ boarding school in the large city of Nagoya. For four years she labored here, laying the foundations of this admirable institution, which has now for more than a dozen years been a blessing beyond price to the women of Japan. But the incessant toil of four years again so impaired her health that her return to America became needful, for temporary rest, it was hoped; but it proved to be a final return.

She left Nagoya on a chill November morning in 1892, before day had dawned. Nevertheless, the love of her Japanese pupils and friends was such that a large company of them assembled at the station, and wept as her train sped away to Yokohama, where she was to take the steamer.

In 1895 she became a teacher in the Assembly’s Home and School at Fredericksburg, Va., and when that institution underwent changes in 1898, she came with the Rev. R. M. Hodge to Nashville, as a member of the faculty of the Nashville Bible Institute and Missionary Training School; she to became lady principal and teacher of the history and methods of missions. For nearly two years she filled this position, greatly endearing herself to all the missionary students who were privileged to share her companionship and daily instruction. Again returning to Fredericksburg, she counted it a privilege to do anything in her power for the cause so near her heart; and then, just as the week ended, and the Sabbath was being ushered in, she entered into the rest that remaineth to the people of God. Her last illness was brief, and during much of the time she was unconscious. She was often heard praying in Chinese, a touching proof of how her heart was still in China. During conscious moments she bore earnest testimony to the exceeding preciousness of her Saviour, reiterating, “He is precious, so precious, so precious,” and thus she sweetly fell asleep. After appropriate services in Fredericksburg, her body was taken by a beloved sister to Mobile, Ala., where again, on Tuesday, services were held in the Jackson Street Presbyterian Church by the Rev. Messrs. Planck and Sims, after which she was laid to rest in the beautiful Magnolia Cemetery. There, half a century ago, she had felt her life’s one great sorrow; and there she shall rise to life’s everlasting joy.

Her sister writes: “Her last thoughts were of missions. She was very anxious to have $50 to send to the Committee from the Ladies Missionary Society of Fredericksburg the week she was called away. When roused to be told that the sum proved to be $58, she said, ‘I am so glad, so glad.’ And thus with God’s work still first in her heart, she went up to see the King in His beauty, and to be joined again to the companion of her youth, and the beloved saints who had gone before her from the land of Sinim.”

Words to Live By:
Is God’s work first in your hear, dear reader? Let us all pray for one another, that we would not fall from our first love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, but remain ever faithful and steadfast in pursuing His will.

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A SMALL FUNERAL

On April 23, I attended a funeral of a member of my local congregation. She had been a founding member, attending a Bible study before a pastor even showed up to start a church. Virginia Tidball was a lifelong resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

She was among the very last of an old tradition: a staunch Southern Presbyterian of the old school. By that, I mean the Old School. That was what her wing was called. It was the Scottish Calvinist wing of the American church. Its last institutional traces disappeared in the 1940’s in the South. In the North, the last of the Old School ministers had been forced out in 1936. On June 15, for the last time, an article on the Presbyterian theological conflict appeared on the front page of the New York Times. The headline announced: “Barring of 3 Philadelphia Pastors Brings Walkout by Presbyterians.” The same page announced: “G. K. Chesterton, Noted Author, Dies.”

When I say she was the last, I mean it. She was like a thread across time to an ancient past. Her father had been a Southern Presbyterian minister. He in turn had studied theology under Robert L. Dabney. For most people, the name “Dabney” does not ring a bell. The textbook writers have done their work well. Robert L. Dabney was the South’s most respected Protestant theologian and the co-founder of the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1861. (The founding meeting took place in the home of Rev. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, who oversaw the Southern Presbyterian Church, 1865-98, as Stated Clerk, and whose son Woodrow went first into the field of higher education, then politics.) During the war, Dabney served as both chaplain and aide de camp for Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. He later wrote a biography of Jackson. He was so completely unreconstructed that in 1867, he allowed to be published his book, written during the war, A Defence of Virginia [And Through Her, of the South]. It included a vigorous defense of slavery, which by 1867 was politically incorrect in the South. He ended his career on the original faculty of the University of Texas, teaching free market economics (still called political economy), blind when he retired in 1894, and also teaching at a Presbyterian seminary in Austin. He died in 1898.

Virginia Tidball was born in 1904, the same year that the last major party candidate for President openly supported the gold standard, the long-forgotten Alton B. Parker, whose defeat by Teddy Roosevelt ended the Old Democracy, seemingly forever. But there were remnants, and Virginia Tidball was one of them.

They still tell the story of the time that John Duncan, the mathematics teacher from Scotland, ended the music portion of the worship service by having the congregation sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” After the service, Miss Tidball told him: “I forgive you, for you are not a native of this country.” Whether or not she was speaking of the United States, no one had the courage to ask.

The world she left behind is a very different world from the one she was born into. In the South, Dabney’s name is forgotten. The textbook story of the late unpleasantness, 1861-65, is the victors’ story. The South adopted tax-funded education with a vengeance, thereby turning the region’s children over to the New York textbook publishers long before World War I. A New York-published and edited U.S. history textbook provides a view of Southern history that is as faithful to the facts as Joseph Ruggles’ son was faithful to the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647), which he swore before God that he believed when he became a ruling elder in the Northern Presbyterian Church.

Biographical Sketch, by Gary North [online at http://www.lewrockwell.com/north/north100.html; used by permission]

The Papers of Virginia Tidball have been preserved at the PCA Historical Center.

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The Anti-opium League in China
written by davidtmyers

DuBose, HampdenC_02This author earnestly hopes that none of our readers see another missionary biography in this post and respond with a ho-hum attitude. These dear servants of Christ, even in earlier centuries and countries, are important to acknowledge in the overall kingdom of Christ down through the ages. And our post today on August 19 is no exception to that rule.

His name was Hampden Coit DuBose. Born in 1845 in South Carolina, he was a Confederate soldier during the War Between the States. But of far more importance was that he was a Christian soldier in that eternal war between Christ and Satan. Graduating from Columbia Theological Seminary, he and his wife Pauline went to China under the American Presbyterian Mission of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, aka Southern Presbyterian Church. Settling in Soochow, China, they began to preach the gospel to a people steeped in Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. Over the next 38 years, in preaching in the market and the street, he claimed for his King this city in China.

Far beyond normal mission endeavors, his ministry entered the cultural mandate area in that he took on the opium trade in China. At the time, this crop in the land hindered greatly the gospel message as it brought Chinese citizens under its power. We are talking about millions addicted to it. Complicit in the use of this deadly narcotic were both England and America. Rev. DuBose was successful in bringing both nations to own their responsibility for the opium trade, and stop doing so. The Presbyterian missionary galvanized missionaries and Christian medical workers to organize the Anti-Opium League in China. Rev. DuBose became its first president.

It was on this day, August 19, around 1906, that the Presbyterian missionary placed a petition signed by 1,333 British and American missionaries and Christian medical personnel into the hands of the Chinese emperor, Giangxa, seeking to prohibit the trade and abuse of opium. The Emperor issued an imperial edict two weeks later, which was practically verbatim the petition DuBose had drafted and given to him.

Rev BuBose served as a Christian missionary until his death in 1910. Recognition for his service included a stone tablet at the time in Soochow, China. He had as well earlier been elected to serve as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Southern Presbyterian Church in 1891.

Words to Live By:
Like Hampden DuBose, every Christian in these United States should be involved in a needy cultural mandate area which begs for a Christian witness. A biblical church ought to have at least one ministry in which it shines the light of the gospel into some needy area of culture. With Rev. DuBose, it was the opium trade which had captured large numbers of Chinese people to the exclusion of the gospel. Which arena of culture is it in your area of ministry? And are you being the salt of the earth to that area of culture? Jesus said, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men?” (Matthew 5:13, NASB). May our Lord keep us from becoming good-for-nothing Christians and/or Christian churches, especially in this great hour of spiritual need in our land.

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Prayer in Times of Apostasy

This is a rare bit of early Westminster Seminary history, located in an old issue of THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN ADVOCATE, dated June 1937.  Not three months following the death of J. Gresham Machen, the annual Day of Prayer was held on the Westminster campus in March of 1937. Arrangements had been made to have the Rev. John Cavitt Blackburn [1889-1959] present as the main speaker at the event.

Blackburn is interesting on several levels. His mother was Annie Williams Girardeau, one of the daughters of the Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau. [His father, George A. Blackburn, authored The Life Work of John L. Girardeau, D.D., LL.DJohn Cavitt Blackburn was educated at Columbia Theological Seminary, 1914-1918, back when the Seminary was still located in Columbia, SC. John also became quite the bibliophile. He had a significant library, built in part upon the libraries of his father and grandfather, and which collection later became a significant early addition to the library at Reformed Theological Seminary, Jackson, MS, by way of a donation from Blackburn’s widow. Rev. Blackburn’s library was apparently sizable enough that duplicates and other items even made their way to the Buswell Library at Covenant Theological Seminary.

It is also interesting to note Blackburn’s presence as indicative of a connection between Westminster Seminary and the Southern Presbyterian Church.  To engage in a bit of speculation, the invitation to have Rev. Blackburn speak at the annual Day of Prayer would have been extended months prior, certainly well before Machen’s death, and perhaps even by Dr. Machen himself. Without troubling ourselves to access Machen’s correspondence to confirm that idea, we do know that Dr. Machen had presented his lectures on the virgin birth of Christ at Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, Georgia. These were the Thomas Smyth Lectures for 1927, and during that time, Rev. Blackburn pastored a church just twenty-some miles away. He could easily have attended those lectures. Lastly, Machen’s father served for a time as one of the trustees at the Seminary. So in light of those connections, it is entirely possible that Machen might have known Rev. Blackburn for many years prior to 1937.

Though he was a pastor for over thirty years, to my knowledge, this is the only surviving example of a sermon by Rev. Blackburn.

PRAYER IN TIMES OF APOSTASY.
by the Rev. John C. Blackburn
[excerpted from The Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, 71.6 (June 1937): 90-96, and a reprint from an earlier issue of The Presbyterian Guardian 4.3 (15 May 1937): 40-42.]

This article is a summary of an address delivered at the annual Day of Prayer at Westminster Theological Seminary last March. Mr. Blackburn is a minister of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.

The effectual prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (James 5:16-18).

This text on prayer is chosen as appropriate to a day of prayer. It is evidently the intention of the Holy Spirit to teach more than one truth about prayer in this passage. But it shall be our purpose, today, to draw from it instruction as to what is our duty and encouragement in prayer in the present evil hour. The inspired writer sets before us Elijah, the well-known prophet of the Old Testament, “a righteous man,” whose prayers of imprecation and intercession are cited with approval as an illustration of the kind of prayer which “availeth much”—in an evil day. If we are to profit by the implicit truth of this text we will have to develop it in the light of its historical background.

The Times of Elijah

No historical era can be viewed as an age apart from the times that precede it. The evil days of Ahab were such as they were largely through predetermining causes. His reign was a sequence of a varied series of sins that reached an inevitable climax of wickedness in his reign.

To Solomon must be charged the policy that opened the door in Israel to alien evils. His “outlandish” wives influenced him into the adoption of an “inclusive policy” through which the worship of false gods was tolerated along with the worship of Jehovah. This liberal attitude brought from Jehovah the charge: “They have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of Ammon.”

Jeroboam the First inaugurated a policy of the boldest expediency. His program called for an alteration of the Mosaic constitution. He changed the spiritual leadership of his kingdom. “He made priests from among all the people, which were not of the sons of Levi.” “He ordained a feast for the children of Israel.” “He made houses of high places.” “All of which he had devised.” Moreover he reintroduced into Israel, as an amicable gesture to the neighboring kingdom of Egypt, the idolatrous worship of the golden calf—the Heliopolitan deity, Mnevis.

Through five regencies—Nadab, Baasha, Elah, Zimri and Omri—the conventional, court-sponsored religion of the Northern Kingdom flowed with increasing corruption. Against each of these kings, without exception, can be found the condemning words of the sacred chronicler of Israel: “He did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and walked in the way of Jeroboam, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.”

But it is in the reign of Ahab, the son of Omri, the seventh king of Israel, that the departure from Jehovah’s law reaches a fullness of iniquity that insures judgment, for “there was none like unto Ahab which did sell himself to do that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

It will be enlightening to examine the nature of the sins of that administration which provoked the righteous indignation of Elijah and brought forth the call for the rod of Jehovah’s displeasure upon His people and His land.

One sin of Ahab was sacrificing his own spiritual interests and that of his kingdom for lust. The law of Jehovah forbade matrimony with the heathen as an unholy alliance. Ahab showed his lack of principle and disregard of the commandments of the Lord by marrying Jezebel, a daughter of Ethbaal, high priest of Astarte, a cousin of Dido of Virgil’s Aeneid. This “lust match” quickly eventuated in the apotheosis of lust throughout the Northern Kingdom. The worship of Ashtoreth became court religion, the libidinous orgies of Tyre and Sidon were celebrated in Israel, and the morals of the populace degenerated and dissipated under the seductive influence of these lascivious rites.

Another sin of Ahab’s was his practice of tolerance in religion—a kind of broad-churchism, without a limit. The innovations and vanities of Jeroboam and his successors were accepted and practiced on the grounds of antiquity, tradition, and custom, while the ancient law of Sinai was made of none effect through local and temporal expediency. To please the Zidonians, Tyrians and Baal-serving apostates in his kingdom, he built a temple for Baal in his capital, Samaria. For the survivors of the old Canaanitish race, “he did very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites did.” Thus he conciliated all men with his liberal and inclusive policy, and affronted Jehovah with his contempt of His holy commandments.

The crowning sin of Ahab was his effort to silence godly protest and warning of judgment by Jehovah’s prophets, and his attempt to exterminate by martyrdom the witnesses for truth. The price of protest was high in those days. The little minority that refused to be broad “wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented; . . . they wandered in deserts, and in mountains and in dens and caves of the earth.”

Such were the days of Elijah, days that try the souls of the righteous and force them to fervent prayer: Unscrupulous despots enthroned in power, the patrons of false religion; the masses subserviently acquiescent in the betrayal and abandonment of the true faith; truth spurned, trodden underfoot, and the righteous being persecuted from the face of the earth.

Elijah’s Imprecation

Jehovah will not leave Himself without witness. Abruptly, unannounced, there appears a prophet of Jehovah, Elijah the Tishbite, of the sojourners of Gilead, with the disturbing announcement to Ahab: “As the Lord, the God of Israel, liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.” And he disappears as mysteriously as he appears. There, in hiding at Chereth, “he prayed earnestly that it might not rain.”

Was it right so to pray—in a land where rain and life are synonymous—where drought means famine, starvation, death? Evidently Elijah, a righteous man, thought so, for he prayed earnestly to that end. Evidently Jehovah sanctioned it for it was answered in kind. Is it right so to pray? James, under the guidance of the Spirit, is citing this instance of Elijah’s imprecation, not only as an illustration of the prophet’s prevalence in prayer, but as an inspiration for New Testament saints so to pray. And thus the Reformed Church has taught, prayed, and sung in Psalm. We cannot deny the righteousness of such a prayer, under the New Covenant, without falling into the error of a dual morality, under the Old and the New Covenant. God’s honor may be thus vindicated, His purposes furthered. Israel’s spiritual and material interests could be thus promoted. The virulency of sin warranted such drastic measures and the obduracy of sin merited such severity. The ends justified the means.

But why did the prophet make this particular prayer for the stopping of the rain from heaven? Because it would prove to Israel that God’s hand was in this judgment, that “He sealest up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.” Because such a judgment would be the fulfilling of the prophecies of the Law, of drought as punishment for apostasy. Because the withholding of rain would convert that which they worshipped as a symbol of Baal—the sun—-into an intolerable curse. Therefore Elijah, Jehovah’s lonely witness in his generation, “a main subject to like passions as we are,” with zeal for Jehovah’s sovereignty, with righteous indignation against wickedness, with a longing for the salvation of Israel, “prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.”

From the very day of the prophet’s prediction the drought began. As the fields began to wither, anxious eyes scanned the western sky for signs of rain. The summer passed and the harvest was shriveled and meagre. The early and the latter rain had failed. The sowing of the spring that followed sprouted only to die away for lack of moisture. The trees on the high ridges shed their seared leaves. The burned and blighted fruit of the orchards was prematurely dropped. There were no sheaves in the garner, no wine in the vat, no oil from the press. The third summer came upon a land parched and powdered. The fountains had ceased to flow. The deep wells were dry. The cisterns were empty. Gaunt famine stalked through the land taking its toll of scrawny-handed children, sunken-eyed women, and hollow-cheeked men. Overhead the sky was brazed to the incantations of the priests of Baal. Israel was perishing from off the face of their land.

And Elijah prayed on. Such is the perverseness of depraved human nature, such the hardness of the natural heart, such the obduracy of willful sinners, that they must be brought to the very gates of death before they can be turned about. God’s opportunity comes in extremity. At the moment of national ruin Jehovah’s spokesman stepped into the scene again. Out from his hiding at Chereth, out from his biding at Zerephath, came the prophet.

Elijah’s Intercession  

“And he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

“Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” was the astonished and indignant salutation of Ahab. “I have not troubled Israel; but thou and thy father’s house,” is Elijah’s resentful rejoinder. Out of the variance came a challenge to battle: “Send and gather to me all Israel unto Mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred which eat at Jezebel’s table.” Forth rode the couriers with the royal summons. The issue was: live, or die.

Beautiful, suitable in location, was Carmel, a median ground between Jehovah’s land and Baal’s strand. Northward rose the forest-clad slopes of Lebanon. Westward lay the blue waters of the Great Sea, dotted with the purple-sailed argosies of a maritime people. Beneath the mountain and beside the sea nestled the teeming marts of Tyre and Sidon. This was Baal’s land. Eastward and southward stretched the plain of Jezreel, walled about with rolling mountains, Gilboa, Tabor, Ebal and Gerizim. On this plain, in the shadow of those mountains, the heroes of the faith had turned back the armies of the aliens, not by many but by few. This was Jehovah’s land.

From a vantage point of Carmel Elijah saw the assembling of Israel. From near and far, from mountain and plain, from village and town, o’er highway and byway, converged a motley multitude of pilgrims, gathering to the battle of the gods.

At the early hour of dawn, Elijah stands before the throng and opens the controversy. “How long ‘halt ye between two opinions? If Jehovah be God follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” It was an urge for decision, a call for division, on an ancient fundamental; “Jehovah thy God is a jealous God,” and, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Jehovah’s prophet was forcing an issue; he was fighting the most dangerous enemy of pure religion; half-heartedness, two-facedness, dual allegiance. “And the people answered him not a word.” Shameful silence! Some were convicted, some were abashed, some afraid, some defiant. None answered. Craven dumbness! How disgraceful is muteness when right and wrong join strife.

“Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of Jehovah; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men. Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it m pieces, and lay in on wood, and put no fire under and call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of Jehovah: and the god that answereth by fire let him be God.” The minority party stands face to face with the majority.. The odds are four hundred to one. No, four hundred to Two! Four hundred priests without God against a prophet and his God. And the ordeal is by fire. The advantage is Baal’s, for he is the fire-god, and the sun is his flame. Let not man, but Heaven decide.

Up from the purple hills of Bashan rose the auriflamme [oriflamme] of day. It filled the valleys ‘with a crimson flood, and drenched the plain of Magiddo into a prophetic Alceldama. Down bowed the votaries of Baal. Then rising up, they circled their altar with rhythmic dance. Higher and higher climbed the sun, faster and faster the priests did prance. Louder and louder rang their cries. Immovable and silent remained the skies. “Oh, Baal, hear us!” They leaped upon the altar. They cut themselves with knives. Leaping, sweating, bleeding, screaming, they fell exhausted. “There was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.” Their efforts were futile, their prayers unanswered, their heaven silent, their god was impotent! False!!

It came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice—blessed hour!—that Elijah said unto all the people, “Come near unto me.” Gracious invitation of a God of grace! And Elijah built an altar, of twelve stones in the name of Jehovah. He put the wood in order, placed the sacrifice, drenched the offering, altar, ground, with water. Then he came near and said, “Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.

Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God and that thou hast turned their heart back again.”

Then the fire fell, hissing, crackling, blinding. It burned the burnt-offering, the wood, the stone, the dust, the water. Down fell the people on their faces. A mighty shout shook the mountain wall—Jehovah he is God! Jehovah he is God!!

Jehovah acclaimed: sin must be judged. Red ran the brook Kishon with the blood of Baal’s priests that day.

Sin removed, the blessing comes. While the king went up to eat and drink, the prophet went up to pray. Seven times he interceded before a cloud appeared. Faith’s ear had caught the sound of rain, now the eye of faith beholds the showers. “Haste!” said the prophet to the king, “that the rain stop thee not.” In the meanwhile the heavens were black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain—and the earth brought forth her fruit. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

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Freely adapted from a tribute written upon his death, the original source now long lost in antiquity. . . 

cockeARIt was on this day, January 7th, in 1858 that Alonzo and Frances Rice Cocke praised God for the birth of a healthy son, and they named him Alonzo Rice Cocke. He was a decendent of both the Rev. Samuel Blair, pastor of the historic Presbyterian church at Faggs Manor, Pennsylvania, and of the Rev. David Rice, who went from Virginia to Kentucky after the Revolutionary War, and did much to establish Presbyterian churches west of the Alleghanies.

Like Samuel of old he was early called of God. He professed conversion at the age of eight, telling his mother he hoped it was the grace of God that made him happy and even at that young age, was said to have shown a perfect understanding of the plan of salvation. His father having died, his religious training rested upon his mother. When he was just nine years old, he joined Diamond Hill Church, of Roanoke Presbytery. After reading the life of General Lee, he said, “I had rather preach the gospel than be the greatest general that ever was.”

Alonzo studied at the New London Academy and later at Washington and Lee University, graduating in his twentieth year with distinction. He went to Union Seminary in Richmond, a school founded by a distinguished member of his mother’s family, finishing his course at the age of twenty-two. He preached at Covington, Va. and Hot Springs, Ark., declining calls to these churches. His first regular pastorate, beginning in 1880, was with the Windy Cove Church and when the congregation at Millboro was particularized, he served both churches as pastor.

As we see so often with pastors in the nineteenth century, he waited until he had a pulpit to serve before taking a wife, and so in 1880 he was married to Miss Jeanie Leyburn, of Lexington, Virginia, who was very helpful to him in his work. One child, Frances Lea came to bless their lives. It was here at the Windy Cove Church where he met the saintly Rev. Samuel Brown who was like a father to him in his friendship.

At last, Rev. Cocke was compelled to resign his beloved pastorate on account of ill health in 1884. After recuperating he took a course under the brilliant Dr. R. L. Dabney in Texas. While there he taught some of the classes of Dr. Dabney who said of him, “Such a display of didactic skill and tact showed him to be a born teacher.” Great inducements were offered him to remain in Texas, but personal and domestic duties caused him to return to Virginia.

He was called to Waynesboro in 1886. The church there had 105 members, but during his pastorate it increased to five or six hundred with two organizations. In all, eight hundred were added to the church. During his pastorate there he filled the chair of Philosophy at the Valley Seminary. He was offered the Presidency of Agnes Scott Seminary, in Decatur, Georgia, and the chair of Systematic Theology in South Western University, Clarksville, Tennessee. He was appointed chaplain of the University of Virginia but served only one term (1895-96), as his congregation was unwilling to sever the pastoral relation.

Rev. Cock’s zeal for winning souls was earnestly displayed at the University of Virginia. Beginning in 1897, Dr. Cocke wrote the Practical and Illustrative Department of The Earnest Worker. He authored Studies in Ephesians and Studies in St. John and No Immersion in the Bible. These works were all enthusiastically received by his friends. The degree of Doctor of Divinity was confered on him on the same day by Washington and Lee University in Virginia. and Central University, in Kentucky.

“Such was his culture of mind and heart, his ability and many sided activities, his rare union of pastoral and preaching gifts, his tact, his sympathy and his cheerful courage, that a large promise of usefulness in the service of God and man was before him,” thus wrote one of his friends. One of the members of Windy Cove Church writes, “We know that earth is better and brighter, lives richer and fuller, hopes and aspirations more glorious for those who came into close contact with his saintly life.

Rev. Cocke not only preached the glorious gospel with great earnestness and power–he lived it. He lived among his people and he loved them–each man, woman, and child felt sure of a sympathetic friend in him of him more can it be said than of any one I have ever known, ” ‘Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.’ ” One of the last sermons he preached was from the text of Revelation 21:21, “Each of the gates made of a single pearl.” He seemed to be gazing beyond the Pearly Gates into the celestial city. Those beautiful gates opened for him in a few days. He died at Mercy Hospital, in Chicago, on August 23, 1901, at the age of forty-three, following an operation. His body was brought back to Waynesboro and interred in River View Cemetery, where he awaits the resurrection call. For him to live was Christ and to die was gain.

Words to Live By:
To whom much is given, much is required. But do you feel your gifts to be small by comparison? Then be faithful with what the Lord has given you, for he who is faithful in the small things will be intrusted with greater.

Bibliography:
1. Studies in Ephesians. Lectures delivered at the Presbyterian church at Waynesboro, Va. Chicago : Fleming H. Revell, 1892. 137 p.

2. No Immersion in the Bible; or, Baptism as taught and practiced by Christ and the apostles. Richmond, Va., Presbyterian committee of publication, 1893. 80 p.

3. Studies in the Epistles of John, or, The Manifested Life. Richmond, VA : Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1895. 159 p.

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