Vaughn Hathaway

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One Pastor’s Influence — Benjamin Morgan Palmer [1818-1902]

Benjamin Morgan Palmer, who was born on this day, January 25, in 1818, served a long pastorate in the city of New Orleans and had a fruitful ministry there. His was an important voice in the larger community outside the church, as well. When gambling interests sought to re-establish and continue a lottery in that city, he spoke against it. What follows is the report of Rev. Palmer’s efforts, as found in C. W. Grafton’s history of Presbyterianism in MississippiThe title of this chapter in Grafton’s history is a bit misleading in that, of course, the lottery was not something sponsored by the Synod of Mississippi, but rather was a grievous concern occurring within their borders.
[Note: Grafton’s work was never published, but we are pleased to have a photostatic copy of  the original typescript here at the PCA Historical Center, received by the kind donation of the Rev. Vaughn Hathaway.]

Chapter 24
Lottery in the Synod of Mississippi

At the very beginning of the Presbyterian church in Mississippi a strong decided attitude was taken against all ungodly amusements.

The Presbytery of Mississippi was organized in 1816 and in the second or third meeting it passed strong resolutions against card playing and games of chance. They say “All games of chance are so many inconsiderate and irreverent appeals to divine providence. If we may not take the name of God in vain, neither may we trifle with his providence, or make sport of it for our amusement. Games of chance being abused for the purposes of gain are odious to the feelings of the moral and upright. Christian feeling has long since proscribed games of chance and all forms of gambling. There is but one sentiment on this subject among the truly pious and it has become the moral sense of the Christian church. To offend this sentiment is to offend the church.”

For a long time in early days the habit of raising money by lottery prevailed throughout the land. But it proved to be a most vicious and destructive agency in polluting the morals of the people.

The city of New Orleans and the whole state of Louisiana, we must continue to remember, were a part of the Synod of Mississippi and did not become separated from the Mississippi Synod till 1901, when the Synod of Louisiana was organized.

The Legislature of Louisiana had chartered a corporation in the state to raise money by lottery. In 1891 the license was about to expire and its promoters throughout the state were inaugurating a big effort to have the charter of the company renewed. It was a critical period in the history of the state. The evil effects of the lottery had been set forth during a long period of years and there was a growing spirit in Louisiana against renewing the license.

The Christian citizens all over the state agitated the question and were outspoken against it. The money power in favor of the lottery was very strong and it seemed as if the great evil was about to be fastened anew upon the state. The good people of all the neighboring states sympathized with Louisiana and they held meetings far and wide condemning the lottery.

In the fall of 1891 a great meeting was held in New Orleans in order to stir up the heart of the people and warn them to use all efforts to arrest the spirit of public gambling.

Some fine addresses were delivered, but Dr. Palmer of the Synod of Mississippi delivered the crowning address. His whole heart was aflame with the subject and the sympathy of the big congregation was with him. His address struck the right chord at the right time and it broke the backbone of the lottery. It was a great address and for the purpose of embalming it in the memory of our young people, we are giving it word for word as delivered that night. We leave out the cheers and the plaudits and the handclapping which were in evidence all through the speech.

When you read the address take your place in our big city. Think of the occasion and you will have something in your mind that will help you always. It is scriptural, patriotic and convincing to the highest degree and we make no apology in bringing it before you. It accomplished the grand result for which it was delivered. The address now follows:

Mr. Chairman and fellow citizens of Louisiana.

“I lay the indictment against the Lottery Company of Louisiana, that it is essentially an immoral institution whose business and avowed aim it is to propagate gambling throughout the state and throughout the country. This being not simply a nuisance but even a crime, no Legislature as the creature of the people nor even the people themselves in convention assembled, have the power to legitimate it either by legislative enactment upon the one hand or by fundamental charter upon the other. In other words, I lay the indictment against the Louisiana Lottery Company that its continued existence is incompatible not only with the safety but with the being of the state.

In saying this, sir, I desire to be understood as not simply uttering the language of denunciation. I frame the indictment and I propose to support each of its specifications by adequate proof; and I do this the more distinctly from the conviction that there are many citizens throughout our bounds, who, having been accustomed to look at the lottery simply as a means of revenue either public or private, have not sufficiently considered the inherent viciousness of this system itself.

And it is that class which I hope this night to reach and to range upon our side in this great controversy.

Indeed, sir, if the worst should come to the worst in this present campaign, I for one could wish that, all technicalities being swept away, there might be some method by which the question might be carried up to the Supreme Court of the United States whether it is competent to any state in the union to commit suicide. And if that venerable court should return an answer, which I think they would not for a moment consider as possible, I would then for my part make the appeal to the virtues and common sense of the masses of our people, that the very instinct of self-preservation may stamp out of existence an institution which is fatal to the liberties and the life of the commonwealth.

To read the rest of this chapter, click here.

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It was on this day, July 25, 1989, that the Rev. James Erskine Moore, one of the founding fathers of the PCA, passed on to his eternal reward. Two accounts will serve here to paint a good portrait of “Mr. Moore”, as the Rev. Vaughn Hathaway always respectfully refers to him. The first, shorter account is one drawn from Vaughn’s memory. The second and longer account is from the Rev. Rollin Keller, a retired OPC pastor in California. His recollection of Mr. Moore was first posted on his own blog, at

The pastor had a challenging opportunity in front of him. He had been invited to a debate, and most of the audience was all on the other side of the issue! The “debate” was held at Harding College & High School in Memphis, Tennessee. The greater majority of the audience was made up of kids from high school and their parents. For the most part, they were all members of the Church of Christ denomination. The greater majority of these were novices. Rev. Moore didn’t go there to “debate” the guy. Or to shut him up. He went there to preach the Word. He went there to win souls. By the end of Mr. Moore’s first speech, he had the audience eating out of his hand. They were listening to him and the audience wasn’t listening to the Church of Christ minister. And, the Church of Christ minister was totally frustrated. He even said something outright, to the effect that Mr. Moore wasn’t responding to any of his points. Had you been judging the “debate” on technical merit, you might say that the Church of Christ minister won. But, he didn’t win any of the hearts of the people. Mr. Moore wasn’t concerned with winning the debate. He was concerned really with only one thing that night and that was to sow the seed of the Word and let the Spirit bring in the increase. As a result, the Church of Christ community was shaken by that debate and that Mr. Moore’s words lingered in their community for quite some time, because the Church of Christ minister was foolish enough in his “victory” to have the debate published.

mooreJEThere are several turning points in everyone’s life.  Some you recognize right away, but most you appreciate more as time gives a better perspective.  One of those turning points in my life was found in the person of the Rev. James Erskine Moore.  He became my pastor shortly after I became a Christian, and he taught me the distinctives of the Reformed faith, right from the Bible.

In the providence of God I met this man at the funeral of my beloved uncle Walter Saumert.  I vividly remember Mr. Moore reciting from memory I Thessalonians 4:13-18 as though God was speaking to me directly. The episode was dramatically enhanced by the fact that, as a new Christian, I had not yet read much of the Bible.  The fact that this was the first time death had struck down someone I loved also increased the impact of the moment.  God was working.  Anyone who knew Jim Moore will also understand that he had a flair of unaffected drama in his preaching and recitations.

Again I must attribute to divine providence the fact that my father decided the family needed to move about that time, and our move put us in the same area as the Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church and its pastor, the Rev. James E. Moore.  My mother and I began to attend the church, and that is when I first joined the O. P. C.

It was at this church that I came—albeit kicking and screaming—to be convinced of predestination.  Here also I was to meet the spunky girl who became my dear wife.  Barbara had been taught much of this good stuff, growing up in the home of an OPC minister, but in God’s timing we were both prepared to grow under the ministry of Jim Moore in our understanding of Christ and his church.  Barbara and I both were impressed with Mr. Moore’s preaching, but his manner required some acclimation.  He had an engaging, conversational style, and his voice was pleasant.  His vocabulary and syntax invited our thoughts to follow him easily.  But he flexed his jaw with certain words that made it appear he was trying to hold his teeth in his mouth.  This was most memorable when he pronounced the word “chuch” (or at least it sounded like that to me). It took at least one full sermon, more for others, before one could actually hear the message without distraction. Once acclimated, however, we were strongly edified by this dear man’s preaching.

The church was very small, and the youth group was accordingly small.  The Moore’s son, David, his sister Gwladys Ann, John Molloy, Dorris Stegemeier, Barbara and I were the regulars.  In addition there were some occasional visitors. Younger kids included Katie Moore (now Mrs. Yaegashi, a missionary in Japan). David Moore served many years as a missionary in Japan also, and now uses his Japanese language proficiency to serve as a translator for emergency calls with the phone company.

Jim Moore made his home a friendly and inviting place for us all.  His beloved wife, Maglona, was no small part of this pleasant environment.  They always had ice cream to dispense, and we habitually played “up Jinx” (a team game which included slapping a quarter on the table in stealth so as to keep the opposing team from guessing which hand lay upon the quarter).

Sometimes we sang hymns in this home, sometimes we had prayer.  It was in the Moore home that I first met Professor John Murray.  Mr. Murray was in the area to deliver a series of lectures to Fuller Seminary on the subject of Christian ethics.  Those lectures were later published as Principles of Christian Conduct.

Mr. Moore taught us to be careful Sabbatarians.  He had definite convictions about the church and that the Bible only knows of two perpetuating offices.  As a brash new Calvinist I once made comment about a minor baseball injury, being glad that was over, but Mr. Moore chided me not to make light of providence.  He was indeed a man of propriety and integrity, and a man of firm convictions.  Unfortunately it was his conviction that it was sin for me to get married before I attended seminary that drove a wedge between us.  We never experienced as close a relationship after that.  But we respected each other to his dying day.

He was brought into my life at an important time, and God used the Rev. James E. Moore to bless my life immeasurably when I needed him.

Words to Live By:

One of Rev. Moore’s favorite hymns, by Henry Alford (and best sung to the tune Gresham), paints a wonderful picture of the hope that stands before us, secure in Christ our Saviour:—

Ten thousand times ten thousand in sparkling raiment bright,
The armies of the ransomed saints throng up the steeps of light;
’Tis finished, all is finished, their fight with death and sin;
Fling open wide the golden gates, and let the victors in.

What rush of alleluias fills all the earth and sky!
What ringing of a thousand harps bespeaks the triumph nigh!
O day, for which creation and all its tribes were made;
O joy, for all its former woes a thousandfold repaid!

O then what raptured greetings on Canaan’s happy shore;
What knitting severed friendships up, where partings are no more!
Then eyes with joy shall sparkle, that brimmed with tears of late;
Orphans no longer fatherless, nor widows desolate.

Bring near Thy great salvation, Thou Lamb for sinners slain;
Fill up the roll of Thine elect, then take Thy power, and reign;
Appear, Desire of nations, Thine exiles long for home;
Show in the heaven Thy promised sign; Thou Prince and Savior, come.
as performed by Indelible Grace

The tune Gresham is also displayed here.

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Every once in a while we will dispense with people and events tied to the calendar. I think this particular piece warrants your attention.

The following article is from among the Papers of the Rev. Vaughn Hathaway (graciously donated at this recent PCA GA), and it was the lead article in a  1935 publication of the National Union of Christian Schools,an effort largely connected in those years with the Christian Reformed Church. And since today is a work day, for your convenience a shorter, edited version (with emphasis added) is posted “above the fold.” Please come back later when you have time to read the full article (posted below the fold).

Time has proven Kuiper’s words to have indeed been so very accurate and true, and still so very applicable.


by R. B. Kuiper

It is sometimes possible to characterize an age in one word. The antediluvians, for example, lived in practical atheism. They went about their pursuits as if there were no God. Soon after the flood men turned to polytheism, and for many centuries the human race remained steeped in this sin. I believe that antitheism describes today’s world as accurately as any one word can. At the very least it may be asserted of our age that it indisputably manifests a strong strain of antitheism. Modern man is not merely forgetting God, or even wilfully ignoring Him, but he emphatically denies God. He hates God and is eager to express his hatred. He flies in God’s face.

More fully expressed, it is characteristic of the modern world to cast overboard God and His Word and, consequently, His answer to the question what is true as well as His norm of goodness. The world will have nothing of God, the Absolute, nor of His objective standard of truth and morality.

The inevitable outcome is here. Modern man has lost his moorings. He finds himself at sea, surrounded by the thick mist of doubt and uncertainty and enveloped in the black darkness of hopeless pessimism. “Whirl is King, having driven out Zeus,” said the Athenian comic poet Aristophanes. “Whirl is King, having driven out the Absolute” describes the wicked and adulterous generation in which divine providence has cast our lot.

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Small wonder that the modern man finds no satisfying answer to the question what truth is. Divine revelation has been thrown into the discard and science has come to take its place, but the knowledge proffered by science differs so radically from that received by revelation that it hardly deserves to be called knowledge at all. I well recall when I began the study of physics at the Morgan Park Academy. In the very first lesson we were taught certain axioms. One of them was the indestructibility of matter. Now Webster defines an axiom as “a self-evident truth.” But modern science is by no means sure of the self-evident character of this proposition. The following quotation from Walter Lippmann is as true as witty. I find it most delightful. Says this modern sage: “One can by twisting language sufficiently ‘reconcile’ Genesis with ‘evolution.’ But what no one can do is to guarantee that science will not destroy the doctrine of evolution the day after it has been triumphantly proved that Genesis is compatible with the theory of evolution.—The reconciliation which theologians are attempting is an impossible one, because one of the factors which has to be reconciled—namely, the scientific theory, changes so rapidly that the layman is never sure at any one moment what the theory is which he has to reconcile with religious dogma.”

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If he who denies the absolute God and His Word has no reply to the question what truth is, neither can he say what is good.

The modern man does not know what is right and what wrong, and, as has been aptly remarked, he is giving himself the benefit of the doubt. Modern youth revolts against the restraint of God’s law and passionately lends its ear to the siren song of Freud. The divine institution of marriage is unblushingly violated even in the first family of our land. Supposedly Christian Italy seems eager to follow the example of pagan Japan in carrying out a selfish program of imperialism through ruthless and bloody conquest. Not only numberless individuals, but whole civilized nations, have lost the sense of financial obligation and are laughing just debts out of court. Capital continues to exploit labor, while fanatic reformers and windy demagogues are applauded by hosts for their communistic dreams. “All thine is mine” might well be called the slogan of our generation.

But human beings must be held in restraint somehow. Even man himself realizes that. And so it comes about that modern man, having turned his back on the law of God, which is the law of liberty, yields to a multiplication of human laws, which is tyranny. The great war was fought avowedly to make the world safe for democracy. But the post-war period is one of dictatorships. Despots are crushing whole nations under their heels. Everywhere governments are trampling upon the sacred rights of individuals. The totalitarian state is in the ascendancy. Democracy is rapidly becoming a huge joke, personal liberty a relic.

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What is our duty as Christians in this present evil world? If that question were to be answered in one word, I should choose the word witness. Just before His ascension our Lord said to His disciples: “But ye shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you; and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” That is a succinct statement of the Christian’s task in the world.

Christianity is not merely a theology; it is also a cosmology. Christianity tells man the truth, not only concerning God, but also about the universe. It is more than the true doctrine of salvation; it is also the one correct interpretation of life and the world. It is a comprehensive system of all revealed truth—not only the truth of God’s special revelation, the Bible, but of His general revelation in nature and history as well. And this system derives its unity from God, who is Himself the Truth as well as the Revealer of truth. Christianity is theism.

God has seen fit to reveal Himself to man in two books—the Bible, the book of special revelation, and nature and history, the book of general revelation. Now it is the duty of the organized Church to teach men the content of the former of these books, while it is the special task of the school to open the latter. To be sure, the two may not be separated. Truth can hardly be dealt with so mechanically. After all, truth is one because God is one. Truth is organic. And only he who has learned to understand the Bible can really know history and nature. Yet the distinction is a valid one. The Church can hardly be expected to teach the intricacies of mathematics, physics, astronomy, or the history of the Balkans. Nor does any one demand of the school that it preach the gospel. But Church and school together must declare the whole of God’s revealed truth.

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All we can do is witness. While doing so, we hope and pray that our witness may find response in the modern world. But whether this will actually occur we cannot say. Nor are we responsible for results. Dean Inge once said: “The strength of Christianity is in transforming the lives of individuals—of a small minority, certainly, as Christ clearly predicted, but a large number in the aggregate. To rescue a little flock, here and there, from materialism, selfishness, and hatred, is the task of the Church of Christ in all ages alike, and there is no likelihood that it will ever be otherwise.” This is not a good statement of the task of the Christian Church. Reference to the preaching of the gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ is altogether too obscure. Nor is anything said about the Church’s being the salt of the earth. But who will deny that there is a great deal of sanity in the apparent pessimism of these words? Perhaps the witness of the Christian school too, like that of the Christian Church, is destined to fall in large part on deaf ears. But witness we must. And our witness should ever be clear and strong, and winsome withal.

And who will gainsay that the witness of the Christian school is precisely the witness which is needed by the modern world?
Modern man has forsaken God and His Word. He has turned antitheistic. He has cast overboard the absolute and put the relative in its place. For the objective he has substituted the subjective. In consequence he is hanging between heaven and earth. Nothing is certain save uncertainty. He asks questions innumerable but finds no answers. He is ever seeking but never finding. He hungers and has no food. He thirsts and finds no water. His soul is a great void. And the world is in turmoil. “Whirl is King.”

But the Christian school is characterized by theism, by recognition of God, by submission to the absolute and the objective. It not only asks questions but also solves the most fundamental problems of life. Accordingly it is marked by the calmness of certainty, the tranquillity of power, the serenity of the eternal.

The Christian school offers the troubled world certainty for bewildering doubt, rest for unspeakable weariness, peace for terrifying turmoil, order for maddening confusion, liberty for abject slavery, hope for black despair,—God for utter chaos. Read the rest of this entry »

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