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The Battle of Agincourt, 1415

2020-10-26T15:11:36-05:00October 26, 2020|HH 2020|

“Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day.” —Psalm 91:5

The Battle of Agincourt, October 25, 1415

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say “To-morrow is Saint Crispian”.
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day”.
—Henry V, William Shakespeare

Crispin and Crispian were Christian twins martyred for their faith c. 286 A.D. The Medieval Church added a feast day in their memory, later removed by the Second Vatican Council. Ironically, a number of battles in world history occurred on this day, the most important and best known of which was the Battle of Agincourt. The fact that it was fought on St. Crispin and Crispian’s Day was made famous in a speech that William Shakespeare has King Henry V deliver to inspire his troops on the day of battle.

3rd Century twin martyrs Crispin & Crispian

King Henry V of England (1386-1422)

Twenty-seven-year-old Henry Plantagenet, of the House of Lancaster, served England as King for nine years (1413-1422). He developed a taste for war, fighting against Owain Glendower in Wales and at the Battle of Shrewsbury against the Percys, and when he succeeded his father on the throne, he continued war on France in the so-called “Hundred Years’ War” between the House of Lancaster and the House of Valois. Everyone in the know believed that Henry’s inferior forces were no match for the overwhelming military might of France, which included a powerful mounted force of knights—the greatest in Europe.

The death of Henry ”Hotspur“ Percy during the battle of Shrewsbury, 1403

King Henry decided on a campaign to recover land in France that he sincerely believed belonged to England. He marshaled his forces and sailed to lay siege to the port city of Harfleur. The city determined to hold out, hoping for relief forces, and the fight there cost the English three months, high casualties (about one-third of the total), and pushed the campaign further into the year, resulting in deaths from disease, and delaying the march into the rainy fall season. The King led his forces on a one-hundred-twenty-mile march, across several major rivers, trying to escape, finally closing ranks near a farm called Agincourt Village, as the French army cut off his route.

The twelfth century continental holdings of King Henry II (1166-1216) the sixth great-grandfather of King Henry V

The night before the Battle of Agincourt, the English priests held Mass. The army received forgiveness for their sins and armed themselves for battle in the morning. Historians disagree on the exact number of combatants on the battlefield on October 25, likely about 6-7,000 English, mostly infantry, and 14-16,000 French troops, mostly knights and men-at-arms. Whatever the actual tally, the English were badly outnumbered, exhausted, and hungry.

The morning of the battle

Henry arrayed his 1,000 or so men-at-arms in three lines, across wet fields between two forests, with about 5,000 archers in between. The battle itself is well documented—the English archers advanced and fired showers of arrows into the French battle line, causing the knights to resent the effrontery. The knights on their huge destriers, bred for battle, charged upon the compacted English line. The fire of the archers brought numbers to the ground, and as the heavily armored men at arms charged on foot, the wounded horses running from the field broke them up and trampled the slow. The casualties mounted as the Frenchmen fell in heaps across their front. The English longbowmen who had done such damage then grabbed axes, hammers, and swords and joined their own men-at-arms, attacking the masses of dying Frenchmen, struggling in the mud and slippery grass. The English had to climb piles of bodies to get at the secondary French attack.

15th Century art depicting French and English archers facing off

Sullen, captured Frenchmen were sent to the rear to await disposition. Henry, fearing an attack by the remaining unbloodied French infantry ordered the prisoners massacred, likely thinking they would take up fallen weapons and attack from the rear. A number of them died at the hands of their captors, thus depriving some of the soldiers of the ransom money they were hoping for.

When the battle finally ceased, the French abandoned the field, leaving behind about 6,000 dead, mostly nobles, including about 120 of the “Great Lords” of France, and 1-2,000 wounded and captured. The flower of the French nobility had been slaughtered on the field of battle. The English lost about 600 men.

King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt

The overwhelming victory of the English forced the King of France to come to terms with Henry V in a peace treaty which ultimately proved fragile. In the event, the two kingdoms continued the Hundred Years’ War again a few years later. Henry married the King’s daughter, Katherine of Valois, theoretically joining the two kingdoms for the future. But King Henry died two years later, and the king of France a year after that, leaving the nine-month-old infant Henry VI as King of England and France. He grew up to be, unlike his father and grandfather, “timid, shy, passive, well-intentioned, averse to warfare and violence”, and at times, “mentally unbalanced”. The old veterans of Agincourt could reminisce in a way their successors would not be able to:

The marriage of Henry V of England to Catherine of Valois

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

The Death of Archibald Alexander, 1851

2020-10-19T19:49:19-05:00October 19, 2020|HH 2020|

“He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’” —Acts 1:7

The Death of Archibald Alexander,
October 22, 1851

In centuries past, the name given an individual at birth often had significant meaning. Among Scottish families, Archibald and Alexander were common and had strong definitional and historic undertones. Archibald comes from Old German and was derived from erchan, meaning genuine, and bald, meaning bold. Alexander is of Greek derivation and means “defender of man” or just “defender.” Rev. Archibald Alexander encapsulated in his character and life all that his name implied.

Archibald Alexander (1772-1851)

Archibald was born the third of nine children, in a log cabin near Lexington, Virginia in 1772, to a family who had left Scotland and Ireland in that century and settled first in Pennsylvania, then on the Virginia frontier. His grandfather made a profession of faith in Christ under the preaching of Samuel Rowland during the “Great Awakening,” and his father had joined one of the little Presbyterian churches founded in Rockbridge County, Virginia, when they moved out of the Quaker State.

At age ten, Archibald began to attend William Graham’s academy at Timber Ridge meetinghouse which eventually developed into Washington and Lee University

The Alexander children sat under the teaching of Rev. William Graham, a Princeton graduate who came to the area to establish a school for the local children. Archibald became one of his prize students in the school he called Liberty Hall Academy, which became the precursor of Washington and Lee College in the late 19th Century. The Rev. Graham became the pastor of Timber Ridge Presbyterian Church and provided a Christian classical education second to none on the frontiers of the South. Under Graham and other competent teachers succeeding him, Archibald learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and became an accomplished public speaker and rhetorician himself.

Even with his education, memorization of the catechisms, and biblical knowledge, Archibald left home at seventeen, without a saving knowledge of Christ, to tutor in the home of a Colonel Posey in Spottsylvania County. He “had an aversion to anything spiritual,” and “laughed at any who gave signs of extraordinary devotion.” While a tutor in the Posey home, Archibald providentially met an elderly and devout Christian woman who refuged there also—a Mrs. Tyler—who witnessed to him of the “new birth” and his need of true faith. She also introduced him to the works of John Flavel, an old Puritan and Presbyterian preacher. While reading Flavel’s sermon on Revelation 3:20 to the family on a Sunday night, the young tutor was overwhelmed by the saving Grace of God, and his life was changed forever. All of the teaching and reflection by Christians of his past had plowed the field of his heart, until the words of a man long in his grave, was used by the Holy Spirit to penetrate his philosophical resistance, and self-centered skepticism, to create a new man in Christ.

General Thomas Posey (1750-1818) was an officer during the American War for Independence

The grounds of Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia

Archibald Alexander returned to Liberty Hall for biblical instruction and became a Presbyterian missionary on the frontier, before accepting the presidency of Hampden-Sidney College in 1796 at the age of twenty-four. His impassioned evangelical preaching and profound scholarship resulted in his calling as pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and moderator of the General Assembly in 1808. Seeing the need of a seminary devoted to both scholarship and warm evangelical preaching, he persuaded his denomination to establish the seminary at Princeton, and they chose him as a one-man faculty to make it happen. In 1812, the first class of three students met with the faculty, Alexander himself, in his home, sharing in family devotions and study. In the course of the century, the seminary graduated hundreds of young men who entered Gospel ministries of all sorts, especially as church pastors and foreign missionaries.

Third Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia

Alexander Hall, the original building at Princeton Theological Seminary

Alexander married Janetta, the daughter of Rev. James Waddell around 1802, and they saw four of their five sons enter the ministry and one the state senate. Archibald wrote a number of practical theological works, and established Princeton Seminary as the foremost theological institution to carry on both the uncompromised commitment to biblical fidelity, and its practical application in the dissemination of the Gospel around the world, until the early 20th Century. Among his last words as he lay dying at the age of 79, were these:

“Oh most merciful God . . . Thou hast a perfect right to dispose of me, in that manner which will most effectively promote Thy glory: And I know that whatever Thou dost is right, and wise, and just, and good. . . . And when my spirit leaves this clay tenement, Lord Jesus receive it! Send some of the blessed angels to convey my inexperienced soul to the mansion which Thy love has prepared. And O, let me be so situated, though in the lowest rank, that I may behold Thy glory. May I have an abundant entrance administered unto me into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for whose sake and in whose name, I ask all these things. Amen.

Resources for Further Study

For a full biography of Archibald Alexander read:
The Life of Archibald Alexander, D.D., by James W. Alexander.

Image Credits:Archibald Alexander (Wikipedia.org)Timber Ridge (Wikipedia.org)General Thomas Posey (Wikipedia.org)Hampden-Sidney College (Wikipedia.org)Third Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia (LOC.gov)Alexander Hall (Wikipedia.org)

The Death of Obadiah Holmes, 1682

2020-10-12T12:32:37-05:00October 12, 2020|HH 2020|

“James said that he would harry.
The Pilgrims said they would not tarry”

The Death of Obadiah Holmes,
October 15, 1682

The little band of Puritan dissenters crammed into the diminutive Mayflower made landfall in 1620, naming their colony Plimoth. Ten years later, with King Charles I on the throne, ten percent of the English non-Separatist Puritans had had enough of Royal innovation in worship and opposition to continuing reformation, and flooded into Massachusetts Bay—ten thousand in the decade of the 1630s. They came with the eschatological hope that Christ’s Kingdom over all the earth had begun with them, and that a political and social conformity—based on a militant Reformation theology and application of biblical law, devoid of control by the King’s Bishops—had become the new establishment in the New World. Tolerance of major doctrinal dissent would not become one of the acceptable elements of the Congregational Brotherhood. Men were permitted to hold divergent views, but were not permitted to bring about social discord through evangelizing for heterodoxy. Quaker and Baptist interlopers would especially find the colony a difficult place to live.

The disembarkation of the Pilgrims from the Mayflower

Plymouth Colony Map, 1620-1691

Born (and baptized) around 1610 in England, Obadiah Holmes “had a restless soul, a pugnacious spirit, a hot temper, and a tendency to find fault”. He later commented after his conversion to Christ, that “I minded nothing but folly and vanity”. He married at twenty-one and he and his wife had nine children. He immigrated to America and began a glass-making business in the great seaport town of Salem, Massachusetts. Because of his dissenting beliefs, he moved his family to Plymouth, where he led a small Anabaptist congregation. Indicted for heresy by a grand jury which included William Bradford, Miles Standish, and John Alden, Holmes then moved his family to Rhode Island, where he joined with two Baptist pastors.

Didsbury, England, birth town of Obadiah Holmes

In 1651, while the three men were visiting an elderly friend in Lynn, Massachusetts, the constables arrested all three for spreading heretical views, trying to subvert the Word of God, and creating social discord. They were fined by the court, but Obadiah refused to allow friends to pay the thirty pounds. After saying “I bless God, that I am worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus”, he was taken to jail for five weeks to await his punishment and contemplate his continuing pugnacious spirit. The authorities likely were hoping for repentance and paying of the fine. However, Holmes was taken to Boston Commons and tied to a whipping post. Stripped to the waist, he was lashed thirty strokes with a three-strand whip. He preached and taught while he was being whipped, defying the local magistrate who tried to silence him. No doubt some of the bystanders were reminded of the Apostles refusing to keep silent under Roman persecution. The difference, of course, was that the local authorities were all Christian churchmen enforcing the laws of the colony.

A view of Boston Common as it appeared in the mid-19h Century

The Whipping of Obadiah Holmes in Boston, Massachusetts

The bloody punishment injured Holmes so severely that, for the next three months, he could only sleep on his hands and knees. The Governor of Rhode Island said that anyone witnessing the scars on Holmes’s back would wonder how he ever survived the punishment. When Holmes recovered enough to return to Rhode Island, he became the pastor of only the second Baptist Church in America, for thirty years.

Sympathy for Holmes did have some effect. Two years later, the President of Harvard College refused to have his infant son baptized and was fired for having adopted Anabaptist doctrine. John Clarke, one of the other ministers, published an account of the persecution, which elicited strong letters of disapproval from English Puritans to ministers in New England. No changes to the laws were forthcoming, however, and the men were condemned by John Cotton, the Mathers, and other prominent New England clergy for attempting to lead people astray with false doctrine.

John Clarke (1609-1670)

Obadiah Holmes’ last will and testament was published in the 20th Century, and he left behind several written accounts of his trial and persecution. He died October 15, 1682 at the age of seventy-two and was buried on the family farm, where his grave lies to this day. One of his numerous direct descendants (eight of his nine children lived to adulthood), was President Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), descendant of Obadiah Holmes

The Birth of Rutherford B. Hayes, 1822

2020-10-05T12:19:06-05:00October 5, 2020|HH 2020|

“Now then let the fear of the Lord be upon you; be careful what you do, for the Lord our God will have no part in unrighteousness or partiality or the taking of a bribe.” —II Chronicles 19:7

The Birth of Rutherford B. Hayes,
October 4, 1822

It was called the most corrupt election in American history. Electoral votes from Florida, South Carolina, and Louisiana, where bayonet-enforced Republican governments barely clung to power, were delayed, both sides claiming victory. The Democratic candidate, Samuel Tilden, Governor of New York, won the popular vote by a significant margin and had a solid 184 to 165 electoral lead, one short of the majority, with twenty disputed votes from states under the thumb of Congressional Reconstruction governments, claimed by both parties. The post-Civil War South still harbored contempt and sometimes violent resistance to military occupation. The resurgent Democratic Party in the election of 1876 appeared to finally break the stranglehold on the Presidency by the Party of Lincoln, backed by the might of the United States Army, which had held sway since 1865. The Republicans chose the reformist former Governor of Ohio as their candidate, on the 7th ballot, at the Republican Convention. Now their choice was embroiled in a dispute of epic proportion.

Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822-1893)

Rutherford B. Hayes was born October 4, 1822 in Ohio. His father died ten weeks before his birth, but his mother raised him and his sister, and never remarried. The Hayes family were descended from Scottish immigrants to New England in the early 17th Century. Educated in a Methodist school, in the Church of his Ohio family, Rutherford proved himself a brilliant student, later graduating as valedictorian from Kenyon College and going on to a law degree at Harvard. The ambitious young lawyer joined an established firm in Cincinnati in 1850 and spent that turbulent decade successfully wooing his strait-laced Methodist, teetotalling, abolitionist wife Lucy, defending various malefactors in court, including runaway slaves, and pursuing political advancement in the new Republican Party.

Hayes’s childhood home in Delaware, Ohio

Rutherford and Lucy Hayes on their wedding day

Although lukewarm about Southern secession, believing the sections irreconcilable, Hayes enlisted in the Union army immediately after Fort Sumter and began the war as a major in the 23rd Ohio Infantry, which also contained a Private William McKinley. He eventually rose to Colonel of the regiment and then Brigadier General of the Kanawha Division. Hayes proved himself among the bravest of the brave, leading from the front and getting wounded five times in the war. The Republican Party in Cincinnati knew a Congressman in waiting when they saw one. Elected in 1865, Rutherford Hayes entered the House of Representatives in the moderate wing of the Party, at the beginning of Reconstruction. Hayes then served two terms as Governor of Ohio, beginning in 1873, and retired from politics, hoping forever to enjoy his and Lucy’s eight children at their Spiegel Grove estate in Fremont, Ohio. In 1876, the Party called on him to run for President; with a reputation for honesty, liberal principles, and an unblemished war record, they hoped the American people would overlook the Party scandals of the previous five Republican administrations, and send fifty-four-year-old Rutherford and Lemonade Lucy to the White House.

Major Rutherford Hayes in uniform during the Civil War

Landmark Events tour group at Spiegel Grove, home of Rutherford and Lucy Hayes and their eight children in Fremont, Ohio

As usual in all previous elections, the candidates did not campaign themselves, but remained in their home towns during the election season, as the Party professionals took to the stump and ran the elections in their respective jurisdictions. The Democrats hammered the corrupt politics, criminal prosecutions, and poor economy resulting from the Grant administrations, while the Republicans “waved the bloody shirt” of the saviors of the Republic and branded the Democrats as the party of rebellion, although their candidate was the Governor of New York. The Democrats carried New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana and most of the South. The disputed electoral votes, however, left the outcome unresolved.

The 1876 Electoral College map showing states won by Rutherford in red and states won by Tilden in blue

Congress determined they should decide, but the House was controlled by one party, the Senate by the other, both demanding jurisdiction. Congress and President Grant decided to form an electoral commission made up of five from the House, five from the Senate, and five from the Supreme Court, evenly divided by party with one “neutral” tie-breaker. And then it got complicated. In the end, the Democrats agreed to award the disputed electoral votes to Hayes in return for an end to Reconstruction, withdrawal of Union soldiers from the South, and to allow Democrats to elect their own state governments in the South, resulting in the disenfranchisement of most of the black voters in the South, most of whom had been solidly Republican. Hayes also returned some of the captured battle flags and gave patronage posts to a few southern Democrats. A minority of both parties howled “corrupt bargain,” but the decision secured an end to the impasse, and entrenched a Democratic majority in the South for the next eighty or so years.

Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) 18th President of the United States

Rutherford B. Hayes finally became the nineteenth President of the United States. Some Democrats never accepted him as anything other than “Rutherfraud” or “his fraudulency.” In his single term, which he had promised, Hayes fulfilled his other pledges to the South, to civil service reform, and reinforcing the gold standard. He also used the army to quell railroad strike riots which threatened federal property.

Although turbulent and unprecedented, the disputed election results were resolved peaceably within the republican system of government, although not necessarily to everyone’s satisfaction. But then, no revolutionary criminals and petulant children were advocating the overthrow of Christian civilization and social order, burning down cities, and denying law enforcement, financed by big business and acquiesced to by face-masked cringing political hacks.

Chief Justice Morrison R. Waite administering the oath of office to Hayes, March 4, 1877

New York City Revival, 1857

2020-10-12T12:29:30-05:00September 21, 2020|HH 2020|

“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.” —Romans 9:16

New York City Revival, September 23, 1857

What historians have deemed “The Second Great Awakening”—a wide-spread religious revival in America—began around the turn of the 19th Century and continued sporadically in different areas of the United States until the Civil War. Alongside all real Holy Spirit-led awakenings, counterfeits have also abounded—there have always been tares among the wheat in the Church. Certain characteristics of true revival typically accompanied such phenomena, the most common and certain of which was intense and powerful prayer by laymen and women as well as the clergy. One of the most amazing examples of this truth occurred in New York City in 1857.

Jeremiah Calvin Lanphier (1809-1898)

It all began with 48-year-old businessman and “evangelist to the inner city”, Jeremiah Lanphier, who gave up his business, determined to besiege the throne of Grace for the success of the Gospel in New York City, among both the poor of the lower East Side and among the prosperous Manhattanites of Wall Street. Lanphier was described as a “tall man with a pleasant face and an affectionate manner” and “endowed with much tact and common sense.” He had sat under the preaching and guidance of Virginian J.W. Alexander, son of Archibald Alexander and pastor of 19th St. Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. His preaching had emphasized the Holy Spirit’s work in salvation and the importance of prayer.

The North Dutch Church, New York City, NY

Mr. Lanphier invited one and all to meet at the Consistory of the North Dutch Reformed Church at noon on September 23, 1857 to join him in prayer, to implore God to convict sinners and bring repentance in the midst of the great city. By 12:30pm only one other person had showed up. After an hour, six men total poured their hearts out to God for mercy. Lanphier did not give up, however, and within a week he had sixteen; in three weeks, forty. They prayed for unsaved family members and friends. By October 18, there were consistently about one hundred people per day joining him to pray for God to bring revival.

The Panic of 1857 as portrayed by James H. Cafferty and Charles G. Rosenberg

The economy went through a crash in late October, and 30,000 New Yorkers lost their jobs. By November, the church was so crowded with men who came to pray every Wednesday at noon that they had to use every floor of the church. Soon, prayer meetings were being held in churches all over the city and hundreds of people had confessed faith in Christ.

“The newspaper editor, Horace Greely, who worked for the New York Tribune, sent a reporter with horse and buggy to ride from one prayer meeting to the next to see how many men were praying. In one hour he could only get to twelve meetings, but he counted more than 6,000 men . . . confessing their sins and praying for revival.”

Other cities followed their lead, in Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Chicago, with 5-10,000 praying businessmen and others in each city.

New York City in 1840, much like Lanphier would have known it

A New York Times editorial of March 20, 1858 recorded that:

“[T]he great waves of religious excitement which is now sweeping over this nation, is one of the most remarkable movements since the reformation . . . travelers relate that in cars and steamboats, in banks and markets, everywhere through the interior this matter is an absorbing topic. Churches are crowded . . . school-houses are turned into chapels, converts are numbered by the scores of thousands. In this City, we have beheld a sight which not the most enthusiastic fanatic for church-observances could ever have hoped to look upon; we have seen in a business-quarter of the City in the busiest hours, assemblies of merchants, clerks and working-men, to the number of 5,000 gathered day after day for a simple and solemn worship . . . It is most impressive to think that over this great land tens and fifties of thousands of men and women are putting themselves at this time in a simple and serious way the greatest question that can ever come before the human mind: ‘what shall we do to be saved from sin?’”

Some men of that day believed that fully one million people were converted during this last great spiritual upheaval, soon to be replaced with Mr. Lincoln’s War and a return to economic excesses never before realized in America.

A request for prayer at a Fulton Street prayer meeting

The “Fulton Street Revival” began with a church concerned about their city, one man commissioned to start a prayer meeting, and the faithful prayer of just a few earnest Christians. Today, the New York Times reports with glee the anti-Christian riots and the overthrow of Christian society. Would that a true spiritual awakening spring up once again, on an international scale, with faithful preaching, real repentance and faith, prayer, and millions of converts to the biblical faith that permeated the generation that experienced the “New York City Revival of 1857”.

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