Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

The Family of President Edwards

In Uncategorized on 28/11/2012 at 19:03

[excerpted from THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER, Vol. XXXI, No. 23 (5 June 1852):  89, column 5.]


It was an unspeakable privilege in the view of the late President [Jonathan] Edwards, that when surrounded by a young and growing family, and when his duty to his people, especially in seasons of revival, necessarily occupied his whole attention, he could safely commit his children to the wisdom and piety, the love and faithfulness of their mother [Sarah Pierpont Edwards]. Her views of the responsibility of parents were large and comprehensive. “She thought that, as a parent, she had great and important duties to do toward her children before they were capable of government and instruction. For them she constantly and earnestly prayed, and bore them on her heart before God, in all her secret and most solemn addresses to him; and that, even before they were born. The prospect of her becoming a mother of a rational, immortal creature, which came into existence in an undone and infinitely dreadful state, was sufficient to lead her to bow before God daily for His blessing on it; even redemption and eternal life by Jesus Christ. So that, through all the pain, labor, and sorrow which attended her being the mother of children, she was in travail for them that they should be born of God. Read the rest of this entry »

“The Gospel Precious,” by Dr. Archibald Alexander

In Archibald Alexander, Uncategorized on 28/11/2012 at 18:24

Excerpted from THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER, Vol. XXXI, No. 13 (27 March 1852): 49, column 3.

Dr. Archibald Alexander was, in addition to his service as the first professor at Princeton Seminary, quite dedicated in the work of writing evangelistic tracts, many of which were later gathered and published in the volume, Practical Truths. The following short quote is taken from one such tract:


Oh, precious gospel! Will any merciless hand endeavor to tear away from our hearts this best, this last, and sweetest consolation? Would you darken the only avenue through which one ray of hope can enter? Would you tear from the aged and infirm poor, the only prop on which their souls can repose in peace? Would you deprive the dying of their only source of consolation? Would you rob the world of its richest treasure? Would you let loose the flood-gates of every vice, and bring back upon the earth the horrors of superstition or the atrocities of atheism? Then endeavor to subvert the gospel; throw around you the fire-brands of infidelity; laugh at religion; and make a mock of futurity; but be assured, that for all these things God will bring you into judgment. I will persuade myself that a regard for the welfare of their country, if no higher motive, will induce men to respect the Christian religion. And every pious heart will say, rather let the light of the sun be extinguished than the precious light of the gospel.—[Dr. Archibald Alexander.

The Old Arch Street Presbyterian Church

In Uncategorized on 28/11/2012 at 17:59

While searching earlier today for an obituary (not found) in an old issue of THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER, I came across this interesting brief article concerning pastor, the congregation and the original edifice of the Arch Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. My primary interest is in the first few paragraphs. After that, well, you’ll have to read it for yourself.


The instrumentality of Whitfield in the erection of the ancient square edifice, that once stood on the north west corner of Arch and Third streets, is probably known to some of your readers, as well as the fact, that the people worshipping there, were styled “new lights,” and that sundry opprobrious epithets were applied to the memorable Gilbert Tennent, their pastor. I have sat in the old square house, more than once, and well remember when it was succeeded by the oblong building that occupied the site, until after the settlement of the late Dr. Cuyler, in the pastoral office.

There was no cellar under the original house, and the remains of the venerable and beloved Tennent were deposited beneath the brick floor, and so remained until the contemplated change in the place of worship was effected. The new edifice was furnished with a cellar; and being well suited to storage, was often perverted to the strange use of a place of deposit for the article that manufactures paupers so rapidly. In this cellar were deposited the remains of Tennent, a suitable brick enclosure having been made for the purpose.

The late Dr. Benjamin Rush, who was a warm personal friend and admirer of Mr. Tennent, was sorely grieved, that such a disposition had been made of the venerated dust of his favorite preacher. Horrified at what he deemed a kind of sacrilege, the following impromptu, pronounced while in conversation with a lady who was then a member of Arch street Church, gave vent to his feelings. The lady who is yet living, and who penned the memorable lines at the time of utterance, favored me with a copy, some months ago; and as they are well worth a place in your useful paper, they are forwarded for insertion. They represent the spirit of the departed saint, roused by the resurrection trump, as quitting his heavenly abode, to visit earth in search of his body, and run thus :

The trumpet sounds, the sleeping dead arise,
And Tennent’s spirit quits its nature skies;
To his dear church it wings its favor’d way
To seek reunion with its kindred clay,
Where is my body? cries the reverend saint,
“Lo here, good Sir, the Sexton, “no it ain’t,”
“My body rested under my church floor
That body rises from a liquor store!”

Your readers are aware, the Dr. Rush hated intemperance and all its relations.


[excerpted from THE CHRISTIAN OBSERVER, 31.6 (7 February 1852): 21, column 5.]

Study History!

In Humor on 12/11/2012 at 18:03

I could not locate a source in order to give proper attribution, but did enjoy this cartoon:

Minutes and Papers of the Assembly – A Closer Look

In Westminster Standards on 09/11/2012 at 15:05

Yesterday we received our set of The Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1652. Time does not permit a close inspection just now, but I will provide readers a closer look at the contents of these five volumes, with a transcription of the table of contents, below the photograph. 

VOLUME I : Introduction — [xxiv, [4], 279 p.]
List of Plates [collected between pages 36 and 37]
• Westminster Abbey Library, looking south
• Jerusalem Chamber, looking south
• Jericho Parlour, looking west
• Attendance list (Dr. Williams’s Library MS 38.1, fo. 150r)
• Opening page of Session 45 (Dr. Williams’s Library MS 38.1, fo. 2r)
• Shorthand minutes (Dr. Williams’s Library MS 38.2, fo. 100r)
• ‘Concerning burial of the Dead’ (HL/PO/JO/10/1/182, MP 13 Mar. 1644/5)
List of map and figures

List of tables
Map of English and Welsh counties.
1. Summoning of an assembly
2. The Reformation at Westminster
3. The Westminster assembly at work
4. The text of the minutes and papers
5. The reception of the Westminster assembly
Reader’s guide
Biographical dictionary
Register of citations
1.   Parliament’s summoning ordinance for the Westminster assembly
2.   Members of the Westminster assembly and Scottish commissioners
3.   Officers, scribes, and servants of the Westminster assembly
4.   Standing committees of the Westminster assembly
5.   Assembly routines
6.   The ‘Protest’ taken by assembly members, and parliament’s eight rules
7.   Rules for plenary sessions and assembly committees
8.   Voting practices
9.   Drafting assembly documents
10. Speakers called to order
11. Stipends paid to the Westminster assembly
12. Conjectural seating patterns in the Jerusalem Chamber
13. Leading assembly contributors
14. The nine queries
15. The examination of ministers
16. Note on the conjectural plan of the Jerusalem Chamber
17. Members of the Westminster assembly after the engagement, 1649-1653
Printed works of the Westminster assembly, 1643-1648
General bibliography

VOLUME II : Minutes, Sessions 45-119, 155-198 (1643-1644)  [687 p.]
The votes of the Westminster assembly, 1643-1644
The minutes of the Westminster assembly, Sessions 45-119, 155-198
Disbound paper

VOLUME III : Minutes, Sessions 199-603 (1644-1646) [791 p.]
Sessions 199-600
Parallel sessions 601-603

VOLUME IV : Minutes, Sessions 604-900 (1646-1652)  [897 p.]
Parallel sessions, 604-900
Sessions 901-1163 and 1 March 1649 to 25 March 1652
Disbound papers

VOLUME V : Assembly Papers, Supplementary Materials, and Indexes [472 p.]
Calendar of papers of the Westminster assembly [documents 1-141], p. 1-346
Plenary sessions of the Westminster assembly, p. 347-379
Scripture and Apocrypha Index, p. 380-403
Subject Index, p. 404-414
Place Index, p. 415-432
Person and Name Index, p. 433-472

And on a humorous note, don’t miss the short video commercial, here.

They’re Here! : Minutes and Papers of the Assembly

In Uncategorized on 08/11/2012 at 16:56

I’m pleased to announce that the PCA Historical Center has now accessioned a set of the long-awaited Minutes and Papers of the Westminster Assembly, 1643-1652, edited by Chad Van Dixhoorn and consulting editor, the late David F. Wright [2 October 1937-19 February 2008]. The five volume set is published by Oxford University Press. For the publishers information on the set, click here.

The Historical Center was particularly blessed by the contribution of one PCA church whose donation made possible this accession. This is a rather expensive set, and in all likelihood a rather limited printing, so the need was felt to obtain the set while available. This resource will now be added to the Historical Center’s Westminster Assembly collection. At least one patron is already planning to arrive from out of state to conduct some research with these materials.

Time permitting, I’ll add some more comments about the set in days to come. For those studying the Assembly and its work, this is an invaluable resource.