Thomas E. Peck (1822-93), preacher, writer, ‘beloved instructor’ at Union Theological Seminary, Virginia, was one of the leaders and masterminds in the same school of Southern Presbyterians as J. H. Thornwell and R. L. Dabney in the second half of the 19th century. His biblical convictions made a unique contribution to the thinking of this school. First brought together by T. C. Johnson in 1895-7, these writings contain much which remains relevant today on such topics as Worship, Church and State, revivals of Religion, the Moral Law and Roman Catholicism. The greater part of the third volume is taken up with comment on the Acts of the Apostles.
As a teacher, Peck was in the front rank. ‘As an expositor of truth, as an exegete of Scripture,’ his successor C.R. Vaughan believed, ‘he was probably without a rival in his day.’ But it was not mere teachers that he laboured to prepare for the gospel ministry but rather men ‘with a tongue set on fire’. In this his own life was a constant example, possessed as he was with a moral conviction and a resolute fidelity to Scripture which ‘sometimes puzzled the lovers of expediency’. Yet this was ever combined with a generous enthusiasm and warm affections.
Devotion to principle is the only biblical remedy for our age of religious uncertainty and compromise. In these volumes, Peck’s life work will be continued in another generation.
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