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Arthur St. Clair Born, 1737

2020-03-21T16:34:49-05:00March 23, 2020|HH 2020|

“For I say to every man that is among you, through the grace given unto me, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” —Romans 12:3

Arthur St. Clair Born, March 23, 1737

There are ten towns, three counties, three streets, and a hospital in the United States, and a three-star hotel in Caithness, Scotland named after Arthur St. Clair, but if you list American generals of the War for Independence, his name does not usually appear near the top of the list. He is noted by trivia buffs as the only President of the United States born in Europe, the first governor of the Northwest Territories, and the officer in command during the greatest defeat of an American army by native American forces, in history. He died in poverty in a one-room log cabin near Greensburg, Pennsylvania at the age of eighty-one.

Major General Arthur St. Clair (1737-1818)

St. Clair was born into a Highland Jacobite family in Caithness. He was eleven years old when his fellow-clansmen died fighting for Bonnie Prince Charlie at Culloden. Some historians believe he purchased his commission in the British Army in 1757 to learn the secrets of their success in order to fight them later. Arthur St. Clair came to America with his regiment and fought in the French and Indian War under General Wolfe at the decisive Battle for Quebec City. St. Clair resigned his commission and remained in the colonies, becoming the largest land-owner in Western Pennsylvania, living in the Ligonier Valley. He served in a variety of political positions until the mid-1770s when he identified with the American cause against Great Britain.

Location of historic County Caithness within Scotland

The Battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776

He began the war as a colonel of a Pennsylvania regiment but was swiftly promoted to Brigadier General and sent by George Washington to recruit and command the New Jersey militia. St. Clair participated in the Christmas Eve attack on Trenton, and he is credited with the strategy of flanking the British and attacking at Princeton, which turned into another American victory. Promoted to Major General at Washington’s urging, the Scottish soldier was given command of Fort Ticonderoga in Northeastern New York in 1777.

Fort Ticonderoga near the south end of Lake Champlain in northern New York

The fort was a key strategic point of defense of New York and New England. Though brave and experienced, St. Clair did not fare well in static defense. The British were able to sneak up close and batter the fort with artillery, forcing the Americans out. The patriotic commander had to undergo a court martial but was acquitted of all charges, with the support of General Washington. St. Clair’s portrait in uniform shows a determined and forceful personality, a man born to lead. Because of the lapse at Fort Ti, however, he never regained his status in field command.

Detail of a 1758 map showing the layout of Fort Ticonderoga

St. Clair was elected to the Congress in 1787 and appointed President under the Articles of Confederation, thus becoming the only man in that office who was not born on American soil. His congressional comrades appointed St. Clair the first Governor of the Northwest Territories, from which position he built forts and signed treaties with local tribes. In 1791, Arthur St. Clair again took to the field, this time against British-backed local tribes, as a General in command of a force of about a thousand men—frontier militia and United States Regulars, with a warning from President Washington to beware of ambushes.

Northwest Territory

A coalition of a thousand Delaware, Shawnee, and Miami warriors surprised St. Clair’s forces near the Wabash River in modern-day northeast Ohio; the militia had not deployed pickets outside the camp to warn of just such an attack. The Indians swept over the camps, annihilating the militia. Only a last, desperate bayonet charge by regulars enabled a handful of men to survive unscathed as they ran to the nearest fort. All of the nearly 200 camp followers were massacred and more than 97% of the army itself fell, most of them killed. Approximately one-quarter of the United States Army was wiped out. The defeat remains as the costliest battle in American history and became the first great challenge that the executive branch had to deal with regarding the defense of the country. All sorts of precedents were set by President Washington’s response.

An 1812 printing of an account of General St. Clair’s campaign against the Indians in 1791

Arthur St. Clair remained Governor of the Northwest Territories until 1803 when Thomas Jefferson removed him for defying the authority of Congress to govern the territories. Perhaps his Masonic connections had something to do with his keeping his post, but his autocratic ways were too Federalist for the times. He died in poverty in 1818 while living with a daughter in Western Pennsylvania. Had St. Clair been a little more cautious and less arrogant, he might have saved Fort Ticonderoga and secured his military reputation for the War of Independence. He falls to the second tier of leadership, however, and his mishandling of the conflict with the Indians in 1791 wrecked what successes he previously achieved. No doubt his kin-folk in Scotland would have been proud of his patriotic fight against the tyranny of the King, and would have recognized his defeat at the hands of the American equivalent of Highland clans.

The Cambridge Seven Arrive in Shanghai, 1885

2020-03-16T11:01:06-05:00March 16, 2020|HH 2020|

“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” —John 4:35

The Cambridge Seven Arrive in Shanghai, March 18, 1885

Americans became aware of a great Scottish athlete by the name of Eric Liddell through a popular theatrical-release film in 1981, Chariots of Fire. He was the son of a missionary to China and was devoted to returning there himself, to preach the Gospel after graduating from the University of Edinburgh. He qualified to run in the 1924 summer Olympics in Paris, and won the gold medal in the 400 Meters race, and returned to China the following year. Liddell was not the first athlete to leave Britain for China to preach the Gospel. He was following in the footsteps of seven elite athletes from Cambridge University, who entered the ancient kingdom as missionaries together on March 18, 1885.

The Cambridge Seven in Mandarin garb, 1885

The seven missionaries were Montagu Harry Proctor Beauchamp, William Morton Cassells, Dixon Edward Hoste, Arthur T. Polehill-Turner, Cecil H. Polehill-Turner, Stanley P. Smith and Charles Thomas Studd (“C.T.”). Humanly speaking, it all began with the conversion of Smith in 1880, after he heard a sermon by visiting American evangelist Dwight L. Moody. He and a fellow Christian student witnessed to and prayed for the salvation of their friend Beauchamp, which occurred the following year. Both men were on the Cambridge rowing team, and, along with his brother, prayed for their teammate Dixon Hoste, who was also served as a commissioned officer in the British army. William Cassells was already a believer studying for the ministry and was also a rowing team member. Cecil Polehill-Turner, also an army officer and student at Cambridge, joined his brother Arthur to hear Moody preach on another occasion, and both were converted after a year-long spiritual struggle.

Charles Thomas “C.T.” Studd (1860-1931), one of the Cambridge Seven

C.T. Studd was the greatest cricket batsman in the world and son of a millionaire. His father had come to Christ in 1877, and shortly thereafter C.T. and his two brothers professed faith in Christ. His role as the captain of the cricket team and basking in the light of his own fame, C.T. realized he had drifted from the faith. In 1884 he renewed his total commitment to God and determined to serve in foreign missions. All seven athletes travelled the United Kingdom witnessing on college campuses, to the power of the Gospel and the necessity of repentance and faith.

The Studd Brothers

Hudson Taylor founded China Inland Missions (CIM) in 1865, to bring the Gospel to the millions of Chinese who had never heard of Jesus Christ. One by one the Cambridge Seven decided to join CIM and sail to China together. They served there, some of them to the end of their lives. Dixon Hoste accepted the directorship in 1900, after the Boxer Rebellion, in which fifty-eight CIM missionaries and twenty-one children were murdered by the revolutionaries.

Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) at age 21 during his first visit to China

Charles Studd, a plain-spoken, manly athlete, gave away his inheritance to various Christian mission agencies, several million pounds by today’s standards, and joined with the other six Cambridge men. He married the daughter of a fellow missionary on the field and fathered four daughters, about whom he said: “to teach the Chinese the value of baby girls.” Speaking of his missionary work, Studd said:

“Some want to live within the sound of the chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

Dixon Edward Hoste (1861-1946), longest lived of the Cambridge Seven

His long missionary service also took him to pastorates in India and Africa. He conducted a tour of the United States in which he inspired many young people to be sensitive to God’s calling to enter the far-flung lands and peoples who were utter strangers to the Saviour.

The mission field can be terribly physically demanding, as well as spiritually difficult. God called out seven men at once, physically powerful, capable leaders, and spiritually devoted to Christ to bring thousands to Himself where He had a harvest awaiting the sowers.

William Wharton Cassels (1858-1925), member of the Cambridge Seven

The Ulster Revival, 1859

2020-03-09T12:56:33-05:00March 9, 2020|HH 2020|

“And it shall be that everyone that calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” —Acts 2:21

The Ulster Revival, March 14, 1859

The North of Ireland, known collectively as Ulster, had been settled in previous centuries primarily by Scottish immigrants. Some had been brought there by the English landlords to work the land, others fled persecution or economic dislocation in Scotland. Over several hundred years, the Protestant inhabitants had developed a distinctive culture known for hard work, biblical fidelity, and faithful attendance at their Presbyterian Churches. By the middle of the 19th Century, however, a certain complacency regarding their souls had set in, and one pastor wrote that the Church would either drift into infidelity and liberalism or God would send a revival of “heart religion” through the preaching of the Gospel, earnest conviction of sin and the widespread operation of the Spirit of God in the hearts of the spiritually unconcerned. A young minister and participant in what actually occurred in Ulster, later wrote a book entitled The Year of Grace, A History of the Ulster Revival of 1859.

Map of Ireland showing the nine counties comprising Ulster highlighted in light green, six counties of which constitute Northern Ireland, outlined in red

Stories abound regarding the “outpouring” of the Spirit of God that year. But the awakening did not occur overnight. In the spring of 1855, a young man began a prayer meeting in his home to pray for the unconverted of his neighborhood. The idea grew and, among small pockets of concerned believers in Ulster, gathering for prayer became an earnest practice. While faithful ministers still preached the Gospel and a few parishioners met to pray for the pastor and for the conversion of the lost, little change occurred as a few years passed. In March of 1859, in the town of Ballymena, a young man threw himself down in the public square and cried out for God’s mercy.

Church Street in Ballymena, around the turn of the century

James McQuilken, and his fellow prayers, in Ahoghill, just six miles away, invited everyone they knew to join them at the local church for a prayer meeting on the evening of March 14. Hundreds of people responded and the meeting had to move into the street outside. As the Gospel went forth and conviction of sin overcame the multitude, the first spiritual fruits of what became known as the Great Ulster revival, were brought to faith. As the awakening spread, young people responded by the dozens, as had happened during the Great Awakening in Colonial Massachusetts a hundred twenty years earlier. Street preaching reached multitudes with the Gospel over the next twelve months or more.

First Presbyterian Church Ahoghill where a March 14, 1859 thanksgiving service was held, attended by an estimated 3,000 people

As with all true revivals, the effects were felt instantly in the churches and in the society at large. All across Ulster, from Belfast to Londonderry, churches were packed and had to embark on building extensions. Pubs and distilleries were forced to close as alcoholism declined. The jails in many places remained empty; families returned to biblical patterns, and converts remained steadfast. Pastors estimated that well more than a hundred thousand people came to faith in Christ and joined the churches. A young man from Ballymena, a town of 6,000 inhabitants and the center of the linen trade, summarized what happened when the Holy Spirit wrought His saving work in that town in 1859:

“The week which began with May 17th, can never be forgotten . . .When the great outpouring came, worldly men were silent with an indefinite fear, and Christians found themselves borne onward in the current, with scarce time for any feeling but the outpouring conviction that a great revival had come at last. Careless men were bowed in unaffected earnestness, and sobbed like children. Drunkards and boasting blasphemers were awed into solemnity and silence. Sabbath-school teachers and scholars became seekers of Christ together; and languid believers were stirred up to unusual exertion. . . Every day many were hopefully converted: passing through an ordeal of conviction more or less severe, to realize their great deliverance, and to throw themselves with every energy into the work of warning others, or of leading them to the Lord. . . Every evening the churches were crowded, and family worship became almost universal. Part of the dinner hour was devoted to singing and prayer, and the sound from numerous groups of worshippers could be heard afar borne on the summer breezes. Long neglected Bibles came into general use. . .” —The Year of Grace, William Gibson

Ballymena thoroughfare with townhall in the background

Real revival has rarely been seen in our own country and our own times in such power. Years of earnest prayer preceded the outpouring. Faithful Gospel preaching of the whole counsel of God also preceded the awakening. Such a revival was seen as the only salvation of a society in Ireland that was already considered Christian but had fallen asleep and compromised the truth. The revival restored and reformed the culture for another generation or more. Pray, preach, repent, believe, restore.

Queen Mary Tudor Outlaws Protestantism in England, 1554

2020-03-02T12:54:27-06:00March 2, 2020|HH 2020|

“But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” —Genesis 50:20

Queen Mary Tudor Outlaws Protestantism in England, March 4, 1554

King Henry VIII married six times, hoping to father a male successor to the throne of England. In the process, he also abandoned his allegiance to the papacy in Rome, and established an English Church with himself as the new pontiff. As Providence would have it, his first two wives gave birth to daughters and the third one to a son. Edward VI succeeded to the throne of England at the age of nine, but died at fifteen. In his brief reign, however, the Protestant Reformation became solidified in England due to the influence of Edward VI’s Protestant Regency Council. Upon his death, his half-sister Mary, a devout Roman Catholic, succeeded to the throne, and, through the influence of her priests, determined to return England to papal oversite and make the Roman Church the official religion of England. In the course of her “Counter-Reformation” purge, about three hundred Christians were burned alive at the stake. It began with her declaration on March 4, 1552.

King Henry VIII (1491-1547)

All of Europe became inflamed with the passions of religious transformation and reaction and, by the mid-16th Century, so many people had been converted by the Gospel of Christ as preached by Protestant pastors and laymen that Pope Paul III called a church council at Trent. The council sought to define the beliefs of world-wide Roman Catholicism, and map out a course of response and reprisal to Protestantism, now declared a heresy that must be crushed. Historians consider this campaign to have lasted for about 103 years, ending only in 1648 with the termination of the Thirty Years War, which left about eight million dead in Europe.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563), an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church prompted by the Protestant Reformation

A contemplative Pope Paul III (1468-1549) stares at a portrait of Martin Luther

Mary Tudor became Queen of England in 1553, after Edward’s death, and quickly moved against the Protestant successor that her brother had named, Lady Jane Gray. She and her family were sent to the Tower of London and later beheaded. Mary wed His Most Catholic Majesty, King Phillip of Spain, an unpopular match to most Englishmen, but in theory combining the two states and establishing Roman Catholicism as the state religion in England.

Edward VI (1537-1553) son of King Henry VIII and Jane Seymour

Queen Mary I “Bloody Mary” (1516-1558) was the only child of Henry VIII and his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, to survive to adulthood

At first Mary declared freedom of conscience and tried to woo her Protestant subjects back to “Mother Church,” but their attachment to the basic Solas of the Reformation, and refusal to return to the superstition of Catholic worship, changed Mary’s olive branch to a cudgel. The Archbishop of Canterbury and other reformed officials whom she claimed were plotting to overthrow her reign, were burned at the stake. Many Protestant leaders in Britain fled the country, thus becoming known as “the Marian exiles.” John Knox, one of King Edward’s advisors, left for Geneva, Switzerland, where he sat under the tutelage of John Calvin.

Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556), Archbishop of Canterbury

Woodcut from the 1563 first printing of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs depicting Thomas Cranmer being burned at the stake (March 21, 1556)

With Mary’s Edict of 1554 outlawing Protestant worship and “other heresies,” and with her Protestant half-sister and potential successor Princess Elizabeth in the Tower, perhaps awaiting her own execution, it seemed that the Reformation in England might be doomed. Most of the people she executed were just common people who refused to convert to Catholicism, but among the people of England she became known as “Bloody Mary.” After her five-year reign of terror, Mary Tudor died, childless, of the flu. The first woman to rule England left a legacy of martyrdom and ultimate failure to roll back the Reformation. Her sister Elizabeth I, restored the Protestants to power, although she continued the Tudor tradition of obstinacy as she opposed any further Reformation, alienating the growing movement known as Puritanism.

Elizabeth I (1533-1603), half-sister of Mary Tudor was kept at the Tower of London and later at Woodstock under house arrest for nearly a year

Queen Mary I, c. 1555-58

Without the persecution, a number of men greatly used of God during the latter part of the century likely would not have been as influenced by the Genevan/Calvinistic Reformation, which would have changed the history of both Scotland and England, not to mention the American colonies of the future. The Marian persecution was part of God’s plan, and was cut short at just the right time.

Asahel Nettleton and the Second Great Awakening, 1820

2020-02-22T19:54:42-06:00February 24, 2020|HH 2020|

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” —Acts 3:19

Asahel Nettleton and the Second Great Awakening,
February 27, 1820

Jonathan Edwards is one of best known characters of American history. He was a preacher greatly blessed by God during a period in the 18th Century known later in history as The Great Awakening. Many hundreds, probably thousands, of people professed Christ across New England and down the Eastern seaboard in an extraordinary “outpouring of the Holy Spirit.” In the following century, great spiritual awakenings again occurred over a period of some thirty years or more, with concentrations of revival in the early 1800s through the 1830s and beyond. As with most true spiritual awakenings, many counterfeit “revivals” and conversions were “got up” alongside the genuine operations of the Spirit. In the Second Great Awakening, one of the men who preached a pure Gospel, without emotional excesses or heretical innovations, was a pastor named Asahel Nettleton, a powerful preacher in the theological heritage of the Puritans and Edwards.

Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844) evangelist from Connecticut who was highly influential during the Second Great Awakening

Born to a Connecticut farm family the year that the War for Independence came to an end, in 1783, Asahel lived a relatively moral life, memorized the Westminster Catechism, and was considered an upstanding citizen. He later said that he was a poor lost sinner the whole time, and struggled with the knowledge of his lostness. At the age of eighteen, the sturdy farmer, after an intense study of the Scriptures, repented his sins and trusted Christ alone for salvation. His conversion in 1801 is attributed to the proclamation of the Gospel in that part of the state in the early days of the Second Great Awakening. Little could Nettleton have known that God was beginning a spiritual work in him that would produce the most powerful preaching to the next generation of believers in Connecticut, New York, and in England.

Yale College in New Haven, Connecticut, 1838

Nettleton attended Yale College, where he excelled, and from whence he entered the Gospel ministry in his home state. His pulpit ministry resulted in so many conversions, the young preacher was invited to speak especially in churches with no pastors. He would come to a town and live there for a while to get a feel for the spiritual needs of the people. He was known for strong Calvinistic doctrinal preaching, and penetrating personal and practical application. He never preached anywhere he was not first invited and eschewed “enthusiasm and misguided zeal.” Nettleton itinerated for eleven years, preaching three times on most Sundays and three times during the week, as well as visiting people in their homes.

Stillwater, New York, 1889

On the 27th of February, 1820, more than fourteen hundred people assembled in tiny Stillwater, New York to hear Nettleton preach. He had recently spoken in the small Presbyterian church in the town of Malta nearby, and many people had professed Christ. Nettleton stayed in the area and later recorded that “one hundred three people publically presented themselves a living sacrifice unto the Lord,” from the Stillwater meeting. Over the next few months he believed more than eight hundred souls in a twenty-four-mile radius “have been born into the kingdom of Christ.” One observer stated that the previously barren spiritual wilderness around Stillwater “has now been converted into a fruitful field.” Nettleton always associated with a nearby church so converts had an established assembly with which to identify and attach themselves to as members. In years to come, it was often observed that the fruit of Nettleton’s ministry stayed the course and persevered in the faith. The conversions were real.

He contracted cholera in 1822 and was too ill to travel for two years, in which time he wrote a number of hymns, several still sung today in Reformed Churches. Nettleton was made aware of other preachers who were claiming multiple thousands of conversions but using “new measures” to elicit “decisions for Christ.” He was urged by other Congregationalist and Presbyterian pastors to attend meetings led by the chief innovator, Charles G. Finney, a former attorney turned preacher. Great controversy split churches as “Finneyism” swept across “the burned over district” of western and central New York and into Ohio. Nettleton observed that the innovations and new measures were radical departures in biblical theology and Gospel preaching, emphasizing human autonomy and “free will,” that could be manipulated into decisions, and confirmed by physical actions like “going forward.” Nettleton distanced himself from Finney, and the other preachers who became his coadjutors. Nettleton reaffirmed that salvation was a result of the operation of the Holy Spirit on the heart of men, enabling them to believe—the same Gospel of the Apostles, the Protestant Reformers, and the Puritans preachers of ages past.

Charles Finney (1792-1875) best known as an innovative revivalist during the Second Great Awakening

Asahel Nettleton died in 1844 after a lengthy season of pain and suffering but to the end continued to affirm “it was sweet to trust in the Lord.”