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Harmony S.S. Society

In Uncategorized on 28/05/2013 at 20:04

A few thoughts on the value of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,excerpted from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVER, 15 October 1836, p. 166, columns 2-3:—

 

A-218Ought the Assembly’s Shorter Catechism to be used in Sabbath Schools; and if so, to what extent?

We have seldom heard a more eloquent eulogium on the Catechism, than was elicited in the discussion. All seemed ready and anxious to speak in its praise. We can give only a few disconnected sentences from our notes.

What is the Catechism? An epitome of all the great truths and distinguishing doctrines of the Gospel. He who learns that, has the substance of the Old and New Testaments. No book, except the Bible, is so near perfection. Those who have done most to bless the world, have loved the doctrines just as they are taught in the Catechism. The Puritans came to these shores to cherish these doctrines. “But,” says one, “it is no use to teach children what they cannot understand.” All past experience shows that tis is not true. They must be tuaght things which they cannot understand. I owe more, said the speaker, to my knowledge of these doctrines, as tuaght in that manual, than to my three years’ study in the Theological Seminary. There is a great deal of thought in the Catechism; more than in some of our libraries.

I was once, said another speaker, taught the Catechism, and I never think of these truths without the tenderest recollection of my parents, now in heaven.

I have reason to bless the God of heaven, (said the moderator, probably the oldest Minister present) that I was taught that sytstem of doctrine while I was almost in the arms of my mother. When I grew up so as to compare it with the Bible, I found there was a unison. My old Minister used to teach it at the close of the common school. Then we were called orthodox. That man is now sleeping with his fathers. A new set of Ministers have arisen, who have discarded the Catechism, and now but few can be found in that place, who hold the doctrines as there taught.

Double Handed Folly

In Signs of the Times, The Charleston Observer on 27/05/2013 at 14:19

Truly there is nothing new under the sun. This from THE CHARLESTON OBSERVEROctober 8, 1836:

MORALS! KNIVES!!

The practice of carrying knives and Pistols in our peaceable community prevails to an alarming extent, and should be expressly prohibited by an act of the Legislature as unlawful weapons. Lord Ellenborough it will be recollected, caused a law to be passed making it a capital offense to stab, wound, or maim, with felonious intent; and if we cannot check a fierce and furious spirit in other sections of the country, means, strong and effectual means must be adopted to prevent it here. Persons must not misunderstand their rights—they must not suppose because this is called a free country that it is not, or was not a country of laws—of order and good government. Carrying Knives and Pistols is illegal, because it may lead to a breach of the peace. A man armed at all points with deadly weapons is more apt to get into broils and difficulties than he who is unarmed, for he feels confident of his own strength, and in a sudden ebullition of passion the dagger may be fatally used. They should be abolished by Statute : there is no necessity to carry them, and they are dangerous to the peace, the safety, and the character of the City.

Now this is wrong in a city constituted like ours, and the subject should occupy the attention of our public authorities, and above all convictions for stabbing should be followed by strong and severe punishments.—New York Evening Star.

It is strange that Intelligent Editors should live in the midst of scenes of immorality for years, comment upon them in every paper, and in all aspects, and yet should let their philosophy be perpetually on the surface. What harm in carrying knives by the gross, if there is no disposition to use them? Is it the habit of carrying private arms, or the habit of cherishing those feelings which make arms pernicious, that is to be censured? If Quakers should arm their whole sect, who would fear evil? And why? Quakers do not drink, don’t gamble, do not haunt theatres, nor horse races, nor sporting clubs.—Now if the good citizens of New York would let alone the knives and pistols and dirks and fall upon the evil morals of their vagrant population, if they would purge out their grog shops—maintain the influence of religion over the community, visit theatres less and church more, we should soon hear as little about the danger of carrying “knives,” as we did forty or fifty years ago. And their political papers, if they would cease to laud the theatre, to puff demoralizing scenes, would find less need of bewailing the consequences. As it is in the morning they bid god speed to strong causes of vice and immorality; and in the evening they bemoan their natural and inevitable results. This is double handed folly.

[excerpted from The Charleston Observer 10.41 (8 October 1836): 162, columns 3-4.]

Attendance at Church Courts

In Polity, The Charleston Observer on 25/05/2013 at 10:48

Attendance and participation in the courts of the Church—those meetings of the Session, the Presbytery and the General Assembly—always involve some level of personal cost and expense for each attendee. For some the cost is greater than for others. This is one reason why the meetings of Presbytery and General Assembly move regularly from one location to another, so that inconveniences are averaged out over time for all the officers of the Court.
All of this is nothing new. There have always been those who questioned the expense, and perhaps not without good reason, each in his own situation. But as you will read, there are also good and compelling answers urging upon Commissioners their full participation at the Courts of the Church.

For The Charleston Observer.

Mr. Editor.—Is it my duty to travel between four and five hundred miles, at an expense of at least fifty dollars [at least a month’s wages in 1836], for the sole purpose of attending Synod, when in all probability its business would be as well conducted without as with my presence? And in so doing I should be necessarily absent from the people of my charge two, if not three Sabbaths?
—A Member of Synod.

REPLY.—We answer, 1. Should every member of Synod conclude from similar premises that it was not his duty to attend, there would be no meeting at the time and place appointed, and of course no business done.

2. One member frequently changes the entire complexion of a meeting; and no one has a right to suppose that his presence is a matter of indifference.

3. If the member can afford the expense it will be money well laid out, and if not, his people should aid him. The time occupiied in going and returning, may often be profitably employed. The journey may be of advantage to his health. In conference with his brethren he may receive a new impulse in his Christian course, and be better prepared to labor with effect among his people on his return; so that neither he nor they will be losers by his absence.

4. When he was set apart to the work of the Ministry, he was expected to make many sacrifices for the good of the cause. And if his brethren to whom he has solemnly promised subjection in the Lord, did not regard attendance upon the Judicatories of the Church as important, they would not have exacted an apology or excuse for non-attendance.

5. Instances are exceedingly rare that a Minister has ever cause to regret the sacrifices which he has made in attending the Judicatories of the Church. On the contrary he most usually feels himself amply repaid for all the sacrifices which it has cost him.

6. The present crisis of the Church seems to demand more than ever a full attendance both of Ministers and Elders, cost what it may. [In 1836, the Old School/New School debate was raging in the PCUSA, and the momentous split of the two factions came a year later]

[excerpted from The Charleston Observer, vol. 10, no. 39 (24 September 1836); 154, column 4.]

In Presbyterian Church in the U.S. [PCUS] on 21/05/2013 at 12:30

02_1936_0521_p160Southern Presbyterian Denomination’s 75th Anniversary [1936]

Borrowing from our other blog’s theme, “On This Day in Presbyterian History,”—May 21, 1936the southern Presbyterian Church celebrated its seventy-fifth anniversary. The following text is from a news clipping preserved by the Rev. Henry G. Welbon. An image scan of the news clipping is shown on the right:

TIMES-UNION, Jacksonville, May 21, 1936.

Presbyterians Hold Session in Historic Church

Diamond Jubilee of Organization Is Convened at Augusta.

AUGUSTA. Ga., May 21, (UP) — The seventy-fifth anniversary of the building of a church out of the crisis of the War Between the States will be observed dramatically at the diamond jubilee of the Presbyterian Church of the United States.

The annual meeting of the church opened tonight in the First Presbyterian Church here where 75 years ago, December 4, 1861, the Southern division of the faith was established.

The Southern Presbyterian Church’s existence began during the days of the War Between the States. The Presbyterian Church in the United States of America had passed the famous Gardiner Springs resolutions in ’61, calling upon every member of the church to pledge allegiance and loyalty to the Federal Government which was fighting the Confederacy.

The adoption of that resolution left the Southern Presbyterian members with no choice but to withdraw and form their own general assembly. This was done December 4, 1861, at a meeting in the Presbyterian Church here. At that time, Dr. Joseph Ruggles Wilson, father of late President Woodrow Wilson, was pastor of the Augusta church.

The ancient building still stands, and a reminder of the days that caused the formation of the new assembly is seen, in the slave galleries for the negroes. Until the last of them died a few years ago, there were still several colored members who held their memberships from slave days.

A stated clerk to succeed the Rev. J. D. Leslie, who died recently, is to be elected by the assembly. The Rev. E. C. Scott of Dallas, Texas, who has served as assistant stated clerk, is expected to be elected stated clerk.

Three overtures asking that the church take steps to promote an organic union of all Presbyterian bodies in the Nation are to be presented formally to the assembly Friday, but no action is expected until Monday. The Presbytery of Central Mississippi is to file an overture disfavoring the union move.

William E. Hill, Jr. : We Need Revival!

In Jr., Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Journal, William E. Hill on 01/05/2013 at 15:34

hillWEThe Rev. Bill Iverson called today, in need of a document, and somewhere in our conversation the name of Bill Hill came up. The Rev. William E. Hill, Jr. is particularly remembered as a faithful pastor, as the founder of the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and as a leading voice in the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America. The following article was written by Rev. Hill and published in THE PRESBYTERIAN JOURNAL about three years after the formation of the PCA.

Not more organization and programs, but the dividends of Spirit-filling—

We Need Revival!

by William E. Hill, Jr.
[1880-1983]

We of the Presbyterian Church in America have come through a traumatic experience. New churches have been formed, enduring birth pains sorrowfully yet joyfully.

Some churches have been able to gain their freedom from earlier connections without difficulty. Others have suffered. Ministers and members whose heritage stretches back for generations in one denomination which was their lifelong home now find themselves in a new one. For some, the transition has been relatively easy. For many it has been exceedingly difficult. Some churches and ministers have endured bitter persecution.

However, now that the agony is over, there is joyful elation, very much akin to the joy experienced by people in the early Church as recorded in Acts 2-3. They “ate their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.” So, also, some have been enabled by the Spirit to rejoice that they were ‘‘counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake.”

We are free at last. This is good, but we are compelled to raise the question: So what? And the “so what?” reminds us that the early Church, after the traumatic experience and joyful elation, still found dangers to be encountered (Acts 4-5). For some, disillusionment was ahead. As in the case described in the epistle to the Hebrews, we face certain definite dangers of disillusionment.

We also face another danger—having escaped one ecclesiastical strait- jacket, we proceed to put ourselves into another, not quite so bad but nonetheless real. We face dangers of infighting among ourselves. We have our hyper-Calvinists, our moderate Calvinists, and our charismatics, our premillennialists and our amillennialists, each a little bit concerned about what the new denomination will do to them.

Looking at the situation after our third General Assembly, we raise the question: Does the PCA need revival? Some may say, “That is a silly question—we are already in revival.” This I question. Some may suggest that we need doctrinal instruction. Others may say we need to perfect our organization and outreach.

It seems to me, however, that what is most desperately needed in the PCA is real revival. Of doctrinal identification we have enough. Of ecclesiastical machinery we have too much. Of debating fine points we are weary. Now the question is or should be: How in the world are we going to meet the needs of many of our small, struggling groups? This is a big question.

Indeed, how are we going to find ministers to pastor these people? Another big question. The answer to all these questions, I believe, is revival. Without it we will degenerate into an ecclesiastical machine, grinding out materials, spewing forth pronouncements, fussing over theological distinctions, and languishing in barrenness and sterility.

The primary mark of real spiritual awakening for any people or any individual is repentance. On the Day of Pentecost there was real repentance with people crying out, “What must I do to be saved?” as their “hearts were pricked” by the Spirit-filled preaching of the apostles. In the revival at Ephesus (Acts 19-20), the people confessed their sins openly, publicly burning the instruments of their sins. Paul recounted in Acts 20 how he had preached with a twofold thrust, the first of which was “repentance toward God” (Acts 20). Read the rest of this entry »