As recounted last month, Rev. William Martin, on June 4, 1780, preached to the Covenanters of Rocky Creek, South Carolina, and stirred them up to fight in the revolutionary cause. As we celebrate Independence Day in America, it is good for us to recall what happened in the following days that year. The story continues from Mrs. Green whose first-hand account can be found in William Glasgow’s History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America, followed by a few personal reflections.
The sun has set on a long, glorious summer Saturday in Indiana. I’m going to bed, and my voice will be silent in praising the name of the Lord. But, Psalm 113:3, quoted above, struck me afresh a few nights ago as I chatted on Skype with a brother I had just met who lives around the world. As we concluded in prayer, he was praising the Lord as the sun was rising, and I was praising the Lord as the sun was setting.
The Lord, by fulfilling his promises to save people from the uttermost parts of the earth, has brought even greater fulfillment to this passage than would be possible merely through one people in one part of the world praising his name from the time they rise to the time they go to bed. So, I go to bed tonight rejoicing to know that some of you are picking up the chorus of praise, even as I leave off, for now. Praise the Lord!
On this date in 1780, Rev. William Martin preached a sermon which moved people to action like few other the history of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America. He called men to arms and women to sacrifice in their own neighborhood.
On Saturday, I posted about the progress of the Revolutionary War as it moved to South Carolina in the spring of 1780. Word of the Battle of Waxhaws spread quickly around the South Carolina countryside in the final days of May, 1780. Most of the Reformed Presbyterians in Rocky Creek had settled the area only eight years earlier. The following first-hand account paints a picture of life in Rocky Creek for the Covenanter families who were hearing reports of war that was close at hand. This report sets the context for our next post, coming on Saturday, June 4.
On May 29, 1780, British Colonel Banastre Tarleton defeated American Colonel Abraham Buford at the Battle of Waxhaws near Lancaster, South Carolina, between Columbia and Charlotte. American losses were heavy with one hundred and thirteen being killed, one hundred and fifty being wounded, and fifty-three being taken captive. Reports of the battle vary, but many American reports painted Tarleton as a savage and merciless butcher. What quickly became known as the Buford Massacre stirred up the countryside and eventually became fodder for the opening conflict in Mel Gibson’s movie The Patriot.
This week, I was humbled twice with reminders that the people of God must be about the work of Isaiah 58:6-7 in response to the great grace that the Lord has shown us. In the examples that I saw this week, I was struck with the need not simply to honor the work of those saints of yesteryear but to take up similarly costly work today in service to the King today. Both stories tell of people who personally gave up their lives in some capacity to show mercy to one person at a time. Is there at least one needy person in your life currently to whom you are intentionally showing mercy?
The church continually needs men and women committed to a gentle reformation, and I am encouraged to pursue the same by considering examples of saints in past generations.
Today, we consider Dr. J.G. Vos (1903-1983) who gently, yet vigorously, pursued reformation in his era. He was the son of Princeton theologian Geerhardus Vos, and served as a Reformed Presbyterian missionary in Manchuria, China, in the 1930s. When he returned to the States in the late 1930s, he was saddened and frustrated by the spiritual state of the denomination.
In the years following his service in China, Vos fought a number of battles in the RP Synod, but did not make significant progress and was
A few weeks ago, Jared reminded us of God’s gift of women to the church. At about the same time, God blessed Elizabeth and me with another covenant child. Elizabeth labored greatly to bring this little girl into the world, as does every mother for her child. Impressively, God is pleased to describe his own work as being like that of a woman in labor in Isaiah 42:14: “For a long time I have held my peace; I have kept still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor; I will gasp and pant.” Here, God describes himself as one who uses something like the Lamaze breathing technique because of the intensity of his work and desire! The point is that God patiently restrains himself from judgment against man for a time, but when he chooses to intervene, he goes to work like a determined woman in labor and will not cease nor withhold any effort until his accomplishes his purposes, just as a woman gasps and pants until she brings her child into the world.