Reformed Churchmen

We are Confessional Calvinists and a Prayer Book Church-people. In 2012, we remembered the 350th anniversary of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer; also, we remembered the 450th anniversary of John Jewel's sober, scholarly, and Reformed "An Apology of the Church of England." In 2013, we remembered the publication of the "Heidelberg Catechism" and the influence of Reformed theologians in England, including Heinrich Bullinger's Decades. For 2014: Tyndale's NT translation. For 2015, John Roger, Rowland Taylor and Bishop John Hooper's martyrdom, burned at the stakes. Books of the month. December 2014: Alan Jacob's "Book of Common Prayer" at: January 2015: A.F. Pollard's "Thomas Cranmer and the English Reformation: 1489-1556" at: February 2015: Jaspar Ridley's "Thomas Cranmer" at:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

31 July 1547 A.D. John Knox Enslaved—“Row, Mr. Knox, Row on that French Galley Ship!”

31 July 1547 A.D.  John Knox Enslaved—“Row, Mr. Knox, Row on that French Galley Ship!”

We venture to say this.  If Mr. Knox was Reformed before and if the French thought this would cool Mr. Knox’s heels, we would say that Mr. Knox was far worse after than before.  Suffering steeled the Scots Reformer!

Myers, David T.  “July 31: The Lord’s Galley Slave.”  This Day in Presbyterian History.”  31 Jul 2014.  Accessed 31 Jul 2014.

July 31: The Lord’s Galley Slave 

Were you, the reader, aware that the man of the hour in Scotland, John Knox, once rowed a galley ship? No, it wasn’t for exercise. No, it wasn’t for some national pride of the fastest galley ship in a sailing contest. Simply put, John Knox was enslaved on that ship.

Earlier, Knox had entered St. Andrews Castle with three young children in tow. Their parents had entrusted him as a tutor. When events following the murder of a Roman Catholic cardinal went badly for anyone suspected of being part of that deed, they urged him to flee to that Protestant bastion for safety purposes. Know was not one of the individuals who killed the cardinal. But he did go there for safety. While present, the chaplain to the soldiers at the chapel was urged by the congregation to extend a pastoral call to Knox, recognizing his spiritual gifts. At first, Knox resisted, but finally gave in to the invitation. He began to preach boldly on themes familiar to the Protestant reformation then beginning in the land of Scotland.

At the end of June in 1547, the French fleet besieged St Andrews Castle. On this day, July 31, 1547, victory was gained over the defenders inside its walls.  Surrendering were every one in the castle, with promises of lives spared, transportation to France, the opportunity to enter the service of the French king, but if not, then to be conveyed to any country they wished, provided it not be Scotland again.  Upon arrival in France, immediately the terms of surrender were annulled, and they became prisoners of war. John Knox became a galley slave for nineteen months.

While there were months in which the slave ship did not sail due to weather and cold conditions, in warmer months Knox labored under cruel conditions, of which he writes in many a book and sermon afterwards. He was loaded with chains.  He spoke of the sobs of his heart during the imprisonment. It was in anguish of mind and vehement affliction. There were torments sustained in the galleys.

Amidst all of the physical treatments came the attacks upon their faith. Daily, the Romanist mass was offered, with expected reverence by the prisoners.  As soon as it began however, the galley slaves would cover their heads so they wouldn’t hear the words of the service.  Daily, there were efforts to get the prisoners to confess the Romanist faith. Once, a figure representing the Virgin Mary, was pressed between the chained hands of a slave, with a command to kiss the figure. The slave, who many believer to be John Knox himself, threw the figure overboard into the sea, loudly proclaiming the Virgin to save herself by swimming! After this, there were no more attempts to convert the prisoners.

John Knox gradually wore down physically from this experience, with a fever near the end of it.  Rowing close to the Scottish coast, they raised the feverish Reformer up when the spires of St. Andrews came into view, asking him if he recognized it. He answered, “I know it well; for I see the steeple of that place where God first opened my mouth in public to  his glory; and I am fully persuaded, now weak I now appear, that I shall not depart this life, til my tongue shall glorify His godly name in that same place.”

Whatever means was used (and even Thomas M’Crie was not sure what it was),  after 19 months in harsh conditions, John Knox was freed to continue his ministry in England and Scotland.

Words to Live By: It wasn’t God’s will that Knox should be kept forever as a galley slave. It was God’s will to free him so as to allow him to continue his ministry in the Reformation. All of us ever live within the scope of God’s will all of our lives. Let us submit to that will, in large areas as well as small areas.

31 July 1859 A.D. (Rev. Dr. Prof.) James Waddel Alexander Passes—Presbyterian Theologian & Son of (Rev. Dr. Prof.) Archibald

31 July 1859 A.D.  Mr. (Rev. Dr. Prof.) James Waddel Alexander Passes—Presbyterian  Theologian & Son of Mr. (Rev. Dr. Prof.) Archibald


J. W. Alexander.

James Waddel Alexander (March 13, 1804 – July 31, 1859) was an American Presbyterian minister and theologian who followed in the footsteps of his father, Rev. Archibald Alexander.


Early life

Alexander was born in 1804 in Louisa County, Virginia, the eldest son of Rev. Archibald Alexander and his wife Janetta Waddel. He was born on the Hopewell estate near present-day Gordonsville at the residence of his maternal grandfather after whom he was named, the blind Presbyterian preacher James Waddel.[1] His younger brothers included William Cowper Alexander (1806-1874), president of the New Jersey State Senate and first president of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, and Joseph Addison Alexander (1809-1860), a biblical scholar.

At the time of Alexander's birth, his father was president of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. He attended his first schools in Philadelphia after his father was called to serve as minister of the Third Presbyterian Church in 1807. The family then moved to Princeton, New Jersey when Archibald Alexander was named the first professor of the Princeton Theological Seminary in 1812. Alexander entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1817 and graduated in 1820.[1] In 1824, he helped to create the Chi Phi Society, a semi-religious, semi-literary organization, which ceased activity the following year when it merged with the Philadelphian Society.


After graduation Alexander studied theology at the Princeton Seminary. In 1824 he was appointed a tutor, and during the same year he was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was pastor of a Presbyterian church in Charlotte County, Virginia from 1826 to 1828, and of the First Presbyterian Church of Trenton, New Jersey from 1829 to 1832.[2]

In 1833 he was appointed Professor of Rhetoric and Belles-Letters in the College of New Jersey. He served in this position until 1844, when he became pastor of New York City's Duane Street Presbyterian Church. He served as professor of ecclesiastical history and church government at Princeton Seminary from 1849 to 1851. He then returned to the New York church, which in its new location was known as the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church. He served as minister there until his death.[2]

Alexander became a patron of Henry Baldwin Hyde, who founded the Equitable Life Assurance Society in 1859. Many of the company's original directors were members of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church recruited by Alexander.[3] Alexander's brother, William Cowper Alexander, was named the first president of the company. His son, James Waddell Alexander, would also later serve as president of the company, while another son, William C. Alexander, served as company secretary.


Alexander died of dysentery in Red Sweet Springs, Alleghany County, Virginia in 1859 at the age of 55. He had visited the springs due to his feeble health. He was buried in the family plot at Princeton Cemetery.[2][4]


On June 18, 1830, Alexander married Elizabeth Clarentine Cabell (1809-1885), daughter of George Cabell and Susannah Wyatt. Her paternal great-grandfather, William Cabell (1699-1774), was the patriarch of the prestigious Cabell family of Virginia. They had seven children:[5]

  • George Cabell Alexander (1831-1839)
  • Archibald Alexander (1832-1834)
  • Henry Carrington Alexander (1835-1894), author of The Life of Joseph Addison Alexander (1870)
  • James Waddell Alexander (1839-1915), president of the Equitable Life Assurance Society, 1899-1905; father-in-law of portrait painter John White Alexander and grandfather of mathematician James Waddell Alexander II
  • John Alexander (1845-1847)
  • William C. Alexander (1848-1937), cofounder of Pi Kappa Alpha and secretary of the Equitable Life Assurance Society
  • Janetta Alexander (1850-1851)

Published works

His published works include his sermons and a book on the life of his father. Alexander's English translation of the hymn "O Sacred Head, Now Wounded," became the most widely used version in 19th and 20th century hymnals. His books include "A Gift to the Afflicted" (1835), The American Mechanic and Workingman (2 vols., 1847, a collection of papers to mechanics first printed under the pseudonym of "Charles Quill"), Thoughts on Family Worship (1847), Sacramental Addresses (1854), The Revival and its Lessons (1859), Thoughts on Preaching (1861), Faith (1862), and many juvenile books for Sunday-school libraries.

His correspondence is collected in Forty Years' Familiar Letters of James W. Alexander (2 vols., New York, 1860), edited by Dr John Hall.[6]


1.      ^ Jump up to: a b Duyckinck, Evert Augustus; George Long Duyckinck (1866). Cyclopaedia of American Literature (Supplement). C. Scribner. pp. 38–9.  Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)

3.      Jump up ^ Beard, Patricia (2004). After the Ball. Harper Collins. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-06-095892-3. 

4.      Jump up ^ "The Late Dr. Alexander". The New York Times. 1859-08-05. p. 4. Retrieved 2008-12-29. 

5.      Jump up ^ Brown, Alexander (1895). The Cabells and Their Kin. Houghton, Mifflin. pp. 592–6. 

6.      Jump up ^ "Joseph Addison Alexander and James Waddel Alexander". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911.

31 July 1839 A.D. Death of Mr. (Rev.) Horatius Bonar

31 July 1839 A.D.  Death of Mr. (Rev.) Horatius Bonar

Graves, Dan. “Horatius Bonar Pointed People to Christ.”  June 2007.  Accessed 14 May 2014.  

"Please don't write a biography of me." Racked with pain in the Summer of 1889, Horatius Bonar knew he was dying. He also knew that people would be interested in his life. But during his ministry, his one interest had been the glory of Christ, and he wanted to keep it that way. "Point men to Christ, not to Bonar," he might have said. That is what his sermons had always done:

"If Christ is not the substitute, he is nothing to the sinner. If he did not die as the sin-bearer, he has died in vain. Let us not be deceived on this point nor misled by those who, when they announce Christ as the deliverer, think they have preached the gospel. If I throw a rope to a drowning man, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more than that? If I cast myself into the sea and risk myself to save another, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more? Did He risk His life? The very essence of Christ's deliverance is the substitution of himself for us--his life for ours! He did not come to risk his life; he came to die! He did not redeem us by a little loss, a little sacrifice, a little labor, a little suffering: 'He redeemed us to God by His blood' (I Peter 1:18,19). He gave all he had, even his life, for us. This is the kind of deliverance that awakens the happy song, 'To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood' (Revelation 1:5)."

Christ's deliverance wakened happy songs in Bonar. Although many of his hymns were originally written for children, they were so brim full of sound teaching that adults loved to sing them, too.

I heard the voice of Jesus say, "Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, thou weary one, lay down, Thy head upon my breast."
I came to Jesus as I was, weary and worn and sad;
I found in him a resting place, And he has made me glad.

When Horatius Bonar died on this day, July 31, 1889, his wish was respected; no biography was written of him. Just a few memories and a short sketch of his life have come down to us.

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, he studied at Edinburgh University. Early on, he allied himself with three of the most spiritual men of his day: Thomas Chalmers, William C. Burns and Robert Murray McCheyne. As a young pastor, he earnestly preached in villages and farmhouses throughout his district. He saw evangelization in a different light from his contemporaries. "We think if we can but get men converted, it does not much matter how. Our whole anxiety is, not 'How shall we secure the glory of Jehovah?' but 'How shall we multiply conversions?'" To Bonar, Christ had to come first.

When the evangelical party formed the Free Church, Bonar was with them heart and soul. In his eyes, the old church with its civil service pastors, had failed in its responsibility to arouse the faith of the nation.

A man of prayer and song, Bonar was also a man of sorrow. Five of his children died young. But later, his widowed daughter and her five children had to move in with him. Many grandparents would groan at the added burden, but Bonar rejoiced. To him it was as if God had given him five children to replace those he had lost.


1.      Brown, Theron and Hezekiah Butterworth. Story of the Hymns and Tunes. New YorK: George H. Doran, 1906.

2.      Haeussler, Armin. The Story of Our Hymns : the handbook to the Hymnal of the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Saint Louis: Published by the authority of the General Synod of the Evangelical and Reformed Church by Eden Pub. House, 1954, c1952.

3.      Handbook to the Hymnal. William Chalmers Covert, editor; Calvin Weiss Laufer, associate editor. Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, 1935.

4.      "Horatius Bonar."

5.      "Horatius Bonar 1808-1880."

6.      Roxburgh, K. B. E. "Bonar, Horatius." Biographical Dictionary of Evangelicals. Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2003.

7.      Wells, Amos R. A Treasure of Hymns; Brief biographies of 120 leading hymn- writers and Their best hymns. Boston: W. A. Wilde company, 1945.

8.      Various internet articles with Bonar's poems and writings.

Last updated June, 2007.

31 July 432 A.D. Sixtus III Consecrated as Rome’s 44th ; Correspondent with St. Augustine; Approves Counsel of Ephesus; Rebuts Pelagianism

31 July 432 A.D.  Sixtus III Consecrated as Rome’s 44th ;  Correspondent with St. Augustine;  Approves Counsel of Ephesus; Rebuts Pelagianism

Weber, Nicholas. "Pope St. Sixtus III." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 14. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912.  Accessed 8 Jul 2014.

Pope St. Sixtus III


Consecrated 31 July, 432; d. 440. Previous to his accession he was prominent among the Roman clergy and in correspondence with St. Augustine. He reigned during the Nestorian and Pelagian controversies, and it was probably owing to his conciliatory disposition that he was falsely accused of leanings towards these heresies. As pope he approved the Acts of the Council of Ephesus and endeavoured to restore peace between Cyril of Alexandria and John of Antioch. In the Pelagian controversy he frustrated the attempt of Julian of Eclanum to be readmitted to communion with the Catholic Church. He defended the pope's right of supremacy over Illyricum against the local bishops and the ambitious designs of Proclus of Constantinople. At Rome he restored the Basilica of Liberius, now known as St. Mary Major, enlarged the Basilica of St. Lawrence-Without-the-Walls, and obtained precious gifts from the Emperor Valentinian III for St. Peter's and the Lateran Basilica. The work which asserts that the consul Bassus accused him of crime is a forgery. He is the author of eight letters (in P.L., L, 583 sqq.), but he did not write the works "On Riches", "On False Teachers", and "On Chastity" ("De divitiis", "De malis doctoribus", "De castitate") attributed to him. His feast is kept on 28 March.


DUCHESNE (ed.), Lib. Pont., I (Paris, 1886), 126-27, 232-37; BARMBY in Dict. Christ. Biog., s.v. Sixtus (3); GRISAR, History of Rome and the Popes, tr. CAPPADELTA, I (St. Louis, 1911), nos. 54, 135, 140, 144, 154.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Contra Mundum: Decalogue: Ninth Command

Contra Mundum: Decalogue: Ninth Command: At bottom, the 9th Command is one of the easiest to understand. Its primary application is in regards to testifying in court. Nothing is mo...

30 July 1922 A.D. G.K. Chesterton Makes His Confession

30 July 1922 A.D. G.K. Chesterton Makes His Confession

Graves, Dan.  “Mr. Chesterton Made His Confession.”  Apri 2007.  Accessed14 May 2014.

"How in blazes do you know all these horrors?" cried Flambeau [a criminal in one of Chesterton's fictions].

The shadow of a smile crossed the round simple face of his clerical opponent. "Oh, by being a celibate simpleton, I suppose," he said. "Has it never struck you that a man who does next to nothing but hear men's real sins is not likely to be wholly unaware of human evil?"

Chesterton wielded one of the great pens of his day. His Father Brown detective stories are as delightful to nibble as cinnamon apples. Renowned in literature, Chesterton was also a passionate and humorous apologist for the Christian church. Especially the Catholic church. As a young man he showed considerable literary talent and began to edit a little paper. In time this became his life's work. He did a lot of criticism. He had an uncanny knack of seeing what was crucial in any author's work and the clarity to smell the real worth or the real flaw of any argument.

Paradox was his forte. Paradox, said Chesterton, "is truth standing on her head to attract attention." As used by Chesterton paradox is either a statement that at first glance seems false but actually is true, or a "commonsense" view exposed as false. He used it so frequently it could become tiresome in his longer works. But in short essays it is scintillating and refreshing. Here is an example on the topic of history from The Everlasting Man, his paean to Christ which shows that the spiritual is more real than those things we consider tangible reality. "So long as we neglect [the] subjective side of history, which may more simply be called the inside of history, there will always be a certain limitation on that science which can be better transcended by art. So long as the historian cannot do that, fiction will be truer than fact."

Chesterton could be absent-minded. Once he dropped a garter. While down on the floor groping for it, he found a book and began to read it, the garter completely forgotten. He would stand in the middle of traffic, lost to his surroundings, deep in thought. Still, he had tremendous concentration for writing and was ever fixed on the eternal truths that make the wisdom of this world foolish. Thus he could say succinctly of the agnostic George Bernard Shaw, "He started from points of view which no one else was clever enough to discover and he is at last discovering points of view which no one else was ever stupid enough to forget." His witticisms were repeated everywhere.

On this day, Sunday, July 30th, 1922, Chesterton took a walk with Father O'Connor. His 400 pounds were to be baptized into the church that he had defended all his life. Looking for his prayer book he accidentally pulled out a three penny thriller instead. At last he found the text and made his first confession. Asked why he joined the Catholic church Chesterton replied, "To get rid of my sins."


1.      "Chesterton, Gilbert Keith." Dictionary of National Biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. London: Oxford University Press, 1921 - 1996.

2.      D'Souza, Dinesh. The Catholic Classics. Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 1986.

3.      Ffinch, Michael. G. K. Chesterton. New York: Harper and Row, 1986.

4.      O'Brien, John A. Giants of the Faith. Image, 1960.

5.      Pearson, Hesketh. Lives of the Wits. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.

6.      Slosson, Edwin E. Six Major Prophets. Boston, 1917.

Last updated April, 2007.

30 July 1917 A.D. Edmund P. Clowney Born—President of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia

30 July 1917 A.D.  Edmund P. Clowney Born—President of Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia

Archivist. “July 30: Birth of Edmund P. Clowney.”  This Day in Presbyterian History.  30 Jul 2014.  Accessed 30 Jul 2014.

July 30: Birth of Edmund P. Clowney

Edmund Prosper Clowney met his Lord face to face on Sunday, March 20, 2005, having passed into glory at the age of 87. He was survived by his wife of 63 years, Jean Wright Clowney; by his five children: David Clowney, Deborah Weininger, Paul Clowney, Rebecca Jones, and Anne Foreman; by twenty‑one grandchildren; and by eleven great grandchildren.

Born in Philadelphia, on July 30, 1917, Ed received his B.A. from Wheaton College in 1939, a Th. B. from Westminster Theological Seminary in 1942, a S.T.M from Yale University Divinity School in 1944, and a D.D. from Wheaton College in 1966. Ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, he served as pastor of several churches from 1942 to 1946 and was then invited to become assistant professor of practical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in 1952. He became that institution’s first president in 1966, and remained there until 1984, when he took a post as theologian‑in‑residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In 1990 Ed and Jean moved to Escondido, California, where Ed was adjunct professor at Westminster Seminary California. In 2000, he took a full‑time position as associate pastor at Christ the King Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Houston, Texas. After two years, he moved back to Charlottesville, where he once again became part‑time theologian‑in‑residence at Trinity Presbyterian Church. He remained in this role until his death.

Ed was a compassionate counselor; a devoted servant of Jesus Christ, his Word, and his church; a peacemaker; and a true visionary. He dreamed for Christ’s kingdom and was instrumental in the birth or furtherance of such ministries as the Reformed Theological Seminary in Aix‑en‑Provence, France; Westminster Seminary California; Trinity Church, Charlottesville; the Lausanne Conference; InterVarsity ministries, both in the United States and in England; and “The Westminster Ministerial Institute,” an inner‑city training program for pastors in Philadelphia, out of which the Lord developed the Center for Urban Theological Studies. He also had a life‑long interest in children’s Christian education materials.

In material written in 2002 for the publisher of one of his books, Ed revealed his creativity and educator’s heart: “The biggest job of my life was the production of the Vacation Bible School materials for [the original] Great Commission Publications [in the 1950s]…I had valuable assistance [from a number of people]…I wrote and illustrated the workbooks for children and the manuals for the teachers for the grades up to junior high….To strengthen my figure drawing, I [had] attended Saturday classes in the Chicago Museum school of art for two semesters.”

Ed will be supremely remembered by many as a preacher, perhaps the most gifted proponent and practitioner of redemptive‑historical preaching of this generation. He was unique in his ability to pick up the threads of redemptive history and to weave a rich expositional tapestry that brought Christ in all his perfections and glory before God’s people so that they were drawn to love and worship the Redeemer.

He was also a faithful churchman, serving first in the courts and many committees of the OPC and then in the courts and several committees of the PCA. He was a tireless proponent of improvement in the inter-church relations among the conservative Presbyterian denominations in this country. He had a significant role in the genesis of the “Joining and Receiving” process whereby the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod joined the PCA in 1982.

His writing displays the great theme of his life, namely Christ’s presence in the whole of Scripture and his present work in the church. His books include Preaching and Biblical Theology, Called to the Ministry, Christian Meditation, Doctrine of the Church, The Message of I Peter, The Unfolding Mystery, and Preaching Christ in all of Scripture. Some of these titles have been translated for the benefit of the worldwide church. His last book, How Christ Transforms the Ten Commandments, was accepted by his publisher only days before his death.