Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Memorial for Rev. John L. Girardeau

In Presbyterian Church in the U.S. [PCUS] on 20/12/2012 at 19:02

With a recent request for information from the Minutes of the Synod of South Carolina, (in the old Presbyterian Church, U.S.), I have come across this Memorial to the Rev. John L. Girardeau:

REV. JOHN L. GIRARDEAU, D.D., LL.D.

girardeau (2)James Island near Charleston, S.C., has the distinction of being the birth place of John Lafayette Girardeau.

He was born on November the 14th 1825, and was, as his name indicates, of Huguenot extraction.

In 1844 he graduated from Charleston College, and completed his studies at the Columbia Theological Seminary in 1848.

For a short time after he left the Seminary he served the Wappetaw Church. In 1850 he was ordained and installed pastor of the Wilton Church near Adams Run. In 1854 he was invited to take charge of a colored mission work, which grew into Zion, the great negro church in Charleston, whose house of worship was built by wealthy Presbyterians for the religious instruction of the slave population. The immense place of worship was thronged at every service, many whites attending regularly, and hundreds were hopefully converted. No congregation in the State enjoyed the ministrations of a more gifted preacher.

This happy and most fruitful pastorate was interrupted by the war between the States. Doctor Girardeau was elected Chaplain of the 23d South Carolina regiment, and served in this capacity until the conclusion of hostilities in 1865. He was as brave as the bravest, and discharged with tender and efficient fidelity the part of friend and spiritual teacher of the men of his command.

Upon his return to Charleston he became pastor of Zion Glebe Street Church which had under its care for several years his former colored congregation.

zionPC_CharlestonSCUnder his able leadership and labors this rapidly grew into one of the strongest churches in the Southern Assembly, in point of members, charitable work and pecuniary offerings.

In 1875 the St. Louis General Assembly unanimously elected him Professor of Systematic Theology in the Columbia Seminary and in 1876 he assumed the duties of that chair.

For eighteen years in this Institution, with an untiring devotion and zeal, he assisted in preparing young men for the Christian Ministry. Because of an age limit in the constitution of the Seminary, he resigned in 1895, and resisted the most earnest appeals to permit his re-election. To him there must have been a premonition of his approaching end, for during the winter following his powers began to fail, and after lingering for more than two years, the Master called him, and he passed to his reward upon the 23d of June 1898.

Of Dr. Girardeau’s intellectual gifts there can be but one opinion. He was an incessant and thorough student. He hungered for knowledge. There was nothing superficial in his search for truth. His mind was acutely analytical and logical, and once having assured himself of his premises he pushed them remorselessly to their conclusion. His convictions, therefore were strong and he held to them tenaciously without fear or favor.

In his reading he ranged the fields of history, and poetry, and philosophy and metaphysics, and his memory held for ready service  the treasures they had been made to yield.

As a Professor he was unusually attractive and efficient, painstaking and thorough he invested with peculiar charm the lesson of every day. No recitation dragged with him. He knew how to excite enthusiasm, to stimulate thought, to encourage investigation, to get at the measure of a student’s acquaintance with the subject, and at the end of the hour each one left the class room intellectually richer than when he entered it.

As a Presbyter he was an example of regular attendance upon our church courts. No one ever saw him unattentive to the proceedings. He was ready for any work that might be assigned to him. He held closely to the regular methods of conducting business, was prepared to participate in the discussion of every important question, and was always an alert, vigorous formidable, but courteous antagonist in debate.

As an Author, he has left numerous magazine articles upon a variety of topics, “Instrumental Music in the Public Worship of the Church,” “Calvinism and Evangelical Arminianism,” “The Will in its Theological Relations,” and the Manuscripts of “Philosophical Discussions,” “Theological Discussions” and “Life Letters, Poems and Sermons.” It is to be hoped that these last, in printed form, will soon enrich the literature of our day.

Oglethorpe College conferred upon him the degree of D.D. in 1868, and the South Western Presbyterian University that of LL.D., in the year [1874?].

girardeauGrave01As a Preacher, though probably his greatest fame was won, and it is as a preacher more than likely that he will be lovingly remembered.

Of him it can be truly said he “magnified his office.” The Bible was his Book of books. Its teachings lived in his life. His knowledge of it was profound. He loved his Savior, the Divine Christ, with all of the intense ardor of his being. He believed in his very soul, that men are lost sinners and that their only hope is in the royal gospel of God’s free grace. He shunned not to declare therefore, the whole counsel of God, but with the tender pathos of “the beloved disciple,” and the logical power of a Paul.

His presence was commanding, his voice clear, musical, far reaching; his imagination chaste and brilliant, his diction oppulent and superb, and his delivery, as a rule unhampered by manuscript, was always graceful, often thrillingly impassioned.

With a master’s hand he swept, at will, the entire key board of human feeling.

As a Teacher, Presbyter, Debater, Author, Preacher, John L. Girardeau easily takes an enduring place among the most distinguished men of the Southern Presbyterian Church.

—W. T. Thompson, Chairman.

Image sources:
1. Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau. Photograph courtesy of Rev. Dr. Nick Willborn. Used by permission.
2. Zion Presbyterian Church, Charleston, South Carolina. Photograph by Dr. Barry Waugh. Used by permission.
3. Grave of Rev. Dr. John L. Girardeau, in the Elmwood Cemetery, Columbia, South Carolina. Photograph by Dr. Barry Waugh. Used by permission.

Ancient Revivals: “The Testimony and Advice.”

In Uncategorized on 12/12/2012 at 14:21

Psalm 145:10-12
10.  All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, and Your godly ones shall bless You.
11.  They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power.
12.  To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts and the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.

Earlier this week, The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University, in partnership with William Eerdmans Publishing Company, announced that they will be producing A JONATHAN EDWARDS ENCYCLOPEDIA. The volume, to be published in print and online, will be comprised of some 450 entries. In light of that project, here transcribed below is an important document from the latter years of the First Great Awakening. THE TESTIMONY AND ADVICE is not otherwise easily found on the Internet at this time, other than in short quotations, and so it seemed good to reproduce it here.

In that era of the First Great Awakening, Presbyterian and Congregationalist pastors worked readily with one another in the proclamation of the Gospel, both groups being strongly Calvinistic in their theology. As you read through this document, you will see mentioned several of the concerns which figured prominently in the Old Side/New Side split of the Presbyterian Church, 1741-1758. The issues prompting that split included itinerant preaching and ministerial authority, and both of these concerns are discussed in THE TESTIMONY AND ADVICE.

[Originally published Boston : Printed, and sold by S. Kneeland and T. Green, 1743, and here excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, Vol. XII, No. 38 (22 September 1838): 149, columns 4-5.]

From the Pastor’s Journal.
ANCIENT REVIVALS.

After the remarkable work of God in New England in the beginning of the last century, it was suggested by a writer in the Boston Gazette of May 31st, 1743, that a Convention of Ministers should be held to “consider whether they are not called upon to give an open, conjunct testimony, to an event so surprising and gracious, as well as against those errors in doctrine and disorders in practice, which through the permitted agency of Satan have attended it, and in some measure blemished its glory and hindered its advancement.” Accordingly, on the 7th July of the same year, about ninety Ministers met at Boston for the above purposes. After a sermon, they proceeded to confer together, and to hear the letters of such as desired but were not able to attend the meeting. As the result of their deliberations they drew up and published the following document, which was signed by sixty-eight Ministers—the number of those who remained, the others having left.

THE TESTIMONY AND ADVICE

Of an Assembly of Pastors of Churches in New England, at a meeting in Boston, July 7th, 1743, occasioned by the late happy Revival of Religion in many parts of the land. Read the rest of this entry »

How To Leave the House of God

In Uncategorized on 11/12/2012 at 18:20

[excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, Vol. XII, No. 39 (29 September 1838): 154, column 2.]

HOW TO LEAVE THE HOUSE OF GOD.

And he sent them away.“—From these five short and simple words, Bishop Heber forms one of his most practical and interesting sermons. After repeating the Evangelist’s account of the miracle, at the close of the performance of which Jesus Christ uttered these words, he goes on to lay before his hearers the duties that are incumbent upon them, after being “sent away,” with a blessing from the house of God, and begs them, in his own impressive manner, to bow in supplication, as they leave that temple, to Him who can alone give them strength to go on their way rejoicing, or enable them to fulfil the duties that intervene between that time and the next period appointed for their assembling together. So should we go away strengthened, and refreshed in spirit by the words of the teacher, as the multitude left the Saviour, nourished in body by the miraculous food he had bestowed—”then would the dawn of each returning day bring increase of knowledge;” then, when another Sabbath calls us to God’s holy temple, we would return in the increased favor of God and the clearer light of His countenance; and at length, when the great Sabbath of nature is arrived, and he who once fed the poor flock in the wilderness returns in His father’s glory, to rule over heaven and earth, He will “send us away” no more, but cause us, world without end, to dwell in His tabernacle, and before His face, that “where He is, there we may be also.”Southern Churchman.

Educate Your Children

In Uncategorized on 11/12/2012 at 18:05

[excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, Vol. XII, No. 40 (6 October 1838): 159, column 2]

Educate your Children.—The following elegant extract merits the attention of every teacher, and especially of every parent.

wsc_london“If the time shall come when this might fabric shall totterwhen the beacon which now rises in a pillar of fire, a sign and wonder of the world, shall wax dimthe cause will be found in the ignorance of the people. If our union is still to continue to cheer the hopes, and animate the efforts of the oppressed of every nation; if our fields are to be untrod by the hirelings of despotism; if long days of blessedness are to attend our country in her career of glory; if you would have the sun continue to shed its unclouded rays upon the face of freemen, then educate all the children in the land. This alone startles the tyrant in his dreams of power, and rouses the slumbering energies of oppressed people. It was intelligence that reared up the majestic columns of national glory; and this alone can prevent them from crumbling to ashes.

“Nothing Ever Changes”

In Allan A. MacRae, J. Gresham Machen on 08/12/2012 at 16:40

First, I’d like to point you to a very interesting article by James W. Scott, managing editor of New Horizons, the denominational magazine of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. In this article, “Machen’s Lost Work on the Presbyterian Conflict,” Mr. Scott explores the possibility that J. Gresham Machen had been at work over the summer of 1936 writing a book on the Presbyterian conflict. Among Machen’s papers, the working notes and manuscript for that book were never found, and Mr. Scott builds his case for the theory that the work was removed from Machen’s estate after his decease by Edwin H. Rian and later used as the core of the book later published by Rian, titled The Presbyterian Conflict.

Westminster Theological Seminary has now published the first part of Mr. Scott’s article in the latest issue of The Westminster Theological Journal, and has graciously posted this article to the Seminary web site, here. I think you will enjoy reading the article.

In response to my reading the article, I’m putting in a few extra hours in the PCA Historical Center on Saturday, looking through the Allan A. MacRae Manuscript Collection, to see if there might be anything relevant to the Scott article. MacRae’s correspondence with Machen, with Everett DeVelde and with Edwin H. Rian yielded nothing. Now I’m looking through MacRae’s correspondence with his family. He was very attentive to his mother and wrote home virtually every day, often relating interesting bits of news about the Seminary and the Church.

Just now, I came across the following note, in a letter to his mother dated 8 November 1936, on the federal election for president. Looking back from our vantage point, what does this say about how the political landscape changes—or doesn’t?

rooseveltFD“What a landslide the election was! The people got what they wanted. But it is surely disgusting to think that this is what they wanted. On the whole it was undoubtedly a victory of the unintelligent and the shiftless over the intelligent and the industrious. Of course this does not mean that such a characteristic should be applied to every Roosevelt supporter. Far from it! But it was the great body of votes of this type that swayed the election. The Literary Digest poll showed clearly that the overwhelming majority of the intelligent classes were against him. After all, I suppose a slush fund of ten billion dollars is altogether too much to overcome by argument. Now that he has a blank check from the people, I wonder what he will do with it. He certainly was careful to keep his election speeches in the realm of vague generality, giving no idea at all of his actual intentions.”

Allan MacRae went on in his letter home to state :

Human nature is surely a queer thing. If only people could look to God more and put less faith in their own ideas. How our petty scheming and planning must appear ridiculous in His sight! Surely it is true that we can put our faith in no human being. He wants us more and more to feel our utter dependencies on Him alone.