Presbyterians of the Past

Notes & News Archive

Listed below are entries moved from the “Notes & News” section of the Presbyterians of the Past home page. The list begins with the most recent entry. If you would like to find an entry you remember reading, then use this site’s search bar at the top of the page.

“Meekness of spirit is as useful to a man’s self as meekness of carriage is acceptable to others. The meek suffer much less from the unavoidable evils of life, than those of a contrary disposition. Many cross accidents of the less important kind, are in a manner annihilated when they are borne with calmness. The injury they do us, is not owing half so much to their weight or severity, as to the irritability of their own minds. It is evident that the same disposition must greatly alleviate calamities of a heavier kind and from analogy you may perceive, that as it mitigates the sorrows, it multiplies and adds to the sweetness of the comforts of life. A moderate portion gives greater satisfaction to the humble and thankful, than the most ample possessions to the proud and impatient.” John Witherspoon, in, ” An Address to the Students of the Senior Class, at Princeton College, September 23, 1775, Who were to Receive the Degree of Bachelor of Arts,” as in the 1815 Edinburgh edition of his works, vol. 6, page 24. [posted 4/7/2021]

“And first of all, as first in importance, see to it, that you are reconciled to God; put yourselves one and all, under the protection of that Arm which defends with resistless power, and sustains with untiring care. Be assured that for the want of piety, no talents, however brilliant, can compensate—no achievements, however splendid, can atone. To be called good, and great, and honorable, without it, is bitter satire—senseless, horrible mockery….As citizens of a free state, remember that you have rights most sacred, to cherish and defend. Let your political creed be modelled after the constitution of your country. With a holy care, guard, and perpetuate its union. Let your attachments be rather to principles than to men. Support with firmness such men, as by the fear of God, by their public services, and inviolable attachment to their country, merit its esteem. The observance of these rules will preserve you from that disgraceful vacillation in public concerns which is produced by weakness or selfishness,
and which every man of good sense, and sound principle, will never cease to deplore.” The words of Reformed Dutch (formerly Presbyterian) minister Philip Milledoler as he addressed the graduates of Rutgers College, July 20, 1831. [posted 3/28/2021]

“As it respects Hebrew, the difficulty is greatly overrated. It is far more simple in its structure and syntax than either of the classic languages, and the repulsive features of the vowel system become familiar after a few months attention. There is therefore no excuse to be found in the irksomeness of the task, for its neglect. The language of the Old Testament has its own peculiar claims….It is confessedly the repository of the oldest literature, of the most sublime productions, of the purest ideas of God and religion of the ancient world. The language in which Moses wrote, in which Isaiah breathed the eloquence of heaven, and through which the soul of David poured forth itself to God. No one can be insensible to the interest which belongs to the language of the patriarchs and prophets, and which has formed the medium of so large a portion of God’s communications to men.” Charles Hodge, On the Necessity of a Knowledge of the Original Languages of the Scriptures, 1832. [posted 3/18/2021]

“Salvation is God’s work. He and he alone is the Savior. He delivered Israel from Egypt in the Old Testament model of salvation. Hemmed in by the armies of Pharoah at the Red Sea, the freed Israelites were told to stand firm and see the salvation of God. God’s salvation was more than his mighty acts of deliverance; he brought Israel out of Egypt to bring them to himself. Salvation meant that he would be their God and they his people. That promise became the ground of the prophetic message. Israel had sinned, but God would do a yet greater work of salvation in the future. He would deliver his people not only from their enemies, but from their sins. God their Savior would come and lead them as of old through the desert. He would come with the coming of the Messiah.” Edmund Clowney, The Message of 1 Peter, IVP, 1988, page 50. [posted 3/8/2021]

“Conscious ignorance is a proof of growing knowledge. One does not really begin to know until he knows the fact that he does not know. Paul’s paradox, ‘When I am weak, then am I strong,’ applies here. The man that is wise in his own conceit, who thinks that ‘he knows it all,’ is so encased in his own ignorance that he resists and prevents the approach of knowledge. The man who is conscious of his emptiness is ready to be filled. Receptivity and knowledge do not live apart. Each in the real sense produces the other.” Presbyterian of the South, January 6, 1909. [posted 3/4/2021]

“The Passover, to a pious and intelligent Jew, had both a backward and a forward reference. It called to mind, as a memorial, a great deliverance already wrought. It suggested, as a type, a greater deliverance yet to come. It was meant to stir gratitude for the redemption brought to His people by Jehovah, on the memorable night of Israel’s emancipation in the land of Egypt. It was also meant to point to a fuller and more blessed emancipation through One whom the slain lamb prefigured, and who was to come in the fulness of time.” See C. A. Salmond, Our Christian Passover, Edinburgh, n.d., page 8. [posted 2/25/2021]

“A Christian’s prosperity is measured by how much he gives rather than how much he has.” This comment addresses Christ’s message to the Laodiceans who took pride in their prosperity which they did not realize was in fact choking the vitality of the congregation’s ministry (Revelation 3:14-22). See Greg Beale’s, Revelation: A Shorter Commentary, Eerdmans, 2015, page 92. [posted 2/8/2021]

A college professor had a visitor come to his home and when he saw the rows of books covering an entire wall floor to ceiling he commented, “You have a lot of books there. Say, what are they all about?” The professor responded, “Oh, they are mostly about the philosophy of the Middle Ages.” The visitor said, “Yeah, I guess when you get to middle age you need a philosophy.” Thus, “the meaning of philosophy is advice and sayings that will console you for not being able to do what you would like to do.” (W. H. Hay, “Paul Carus: A Case-Study of Philosophy on the Frontier,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 17:4 (Oct. 1956), 498.) [posted 2/2/21]

During the nineteenth century there were many temperance organizations. One which had its beginning in an unexpected location was the Washingtonian Temperance Society in 1840 when “six poor drunkards met in a grog shop” in Baltimore to reform. Washingtonians did not promote the end of alcoholic beverage production and distribution for all people but instead supported individual temperance. The Washingtonian method involved recruiting users and abusers to pledge cessation of drinking and bolstered each other with meetings for their united goal. Its program bears some similarities to Alcoholics Anonymous. See: A. B. Grosh, Washingtonian Pocket Companion: Containing a Choice Collection of Temperance Hymns, Songs, &c. With Brief Directions for Commencing, Organizing, and Conducting the Meetings of Washingtonian Temperance Societies; and for the Private Action of Washingtonians, 1842. [posted 1/26/2021]


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