August 4: Nathaniel S. McFetridge [1842-1886]
“There is nothing which so constantly controls the mind of a man, and so intensely affects his character, as the views which he entertains of the Deity. These take up their abode in the inmost sanctuary of the heart, and give tone to all its powers and coloring to all its actions. Whatever the forms and activities of the outward life, as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Men do, undoubtedly, liken God, in a measure, to themselves, and transfer to him somewhat of their own passions and predominating moral qualities, and determine the choice of their religion by the prevailing sentiments of their hearts and the habits in which they have been trained; but it is also true that their conceptions of God have a controlling influence in forming their character and regulating their conduct. The unfaithful servant in the parable of the Talents gave as the reason for his idleness his conception of the master as a hard and exacting man. He shaped his conduct not by what the master was, but by what he believed him to be. And if that divine parable have a worldwide application, it discloses the secret spring of a man’s life in the conceptions which he has of God. As these are true or false, so his character and life will be. “As long as we look upon God as an exactor, not a giver, exactors, and not givers, shall we be.” “All the value of service rendered,” says Dr. Arnot, “by intellectual and moral beings depends on the thoughts of God which they entertain.” Hence no sincerity of purpose and no intensity of zeal can atone for a false creed or save a man from the fatal consequences of wrong principles.” [—Opening paragraph of Calvinism in History.]
An essay on the Prologue of Chaucer’s Canterbury tales (s.l. : s.n., 1864), 16pp.; 22cm. [This was McFetridge’s winning submission for the Fowler Prize at Lafayette, and so it is likely that it was published in Easton, PA by the College. Copies have been located at the New York Public Library; Lafayette College and Brown University]
Memorial sermon : preached in the Wakefield Presbyterian Church, Germantown, July 13, 1879. (Philadelphia : Press of Burk & M’Fetridge, 1879), 17pp. [Sermon in commemoration of William Adamson. Copies of the sermon have been located at Emory University’s Pitts Theological Library; Lafayette College; and the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia]
Calvinism in History (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1882), 157pp.
Reprints include, among others:
1. (Philadelphia : Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-school Work, 1912, © 1882), 157pp.
2. (Edmonton, AB, Canada : Still Water Revival Books, 1882; rpt 1989), xi, 120pp.
3. Available at the Internet Archive, in multiple formats, here: https://archive.org/details/calvinisminhisto00mcfe
Louis F. De Boer reviewed Calvinism in History some years ago, but found the work deficient. He concludes his review:
Thompson, Robert Ellis and Nathaniel S. McFetridge, The dear man of God : Doctor Martin Luther of blessed memory. 1483-1883 ; proceedings at the observance of the fourth centenary of his birth, in the Presbyterian Church of Abington in Pennsylvania ; with a memorial discourse (Philadelphia : s.n., 1883), 43pp. [the latter memorial discourse is by N.S. McFetridge; copies located at the Yale University Library; New York Historical Society; Lafayette College; Lutheran Theological Seminary; and the Presbyterian Historical Society]