A Zealous Man: Arthur Tappan Pierson
Arthur Tappan Pierson (1837-1911) was someone whose passion for the Lord and His work was not known until much later. He was everything that defines a Christian and godly man. To his congregants he was honest, zealous about the Bible and missions. To others he was known as an artist and musician. Some knew him as a writer and teacher (known as Dr. Pierson having attended Hamilton College and Union Theological Seminary). To those who knew him best he was a man devoted to his family and loved ones. The Missionary Review of the World describes how God prepared him for the mission field from the time he was young throughout his adult years as a pastor. His personality can best be seen in the nearly 50 books he wrote.
Pierson’s faith began when he was still a child. He made a profession of faith at the age of 15. He became licensed and ordained into the ministry at the young age of 23! After his marriage to Sarah Frances Benedict, he immediately began shepherding a congregation in New York and pastored many churches in the next fifteen years. One church he pastored was Fort Street Presbyterian Church of Detroit. In 1869 this beautiful structure burned to the ground. This had a major impact and served as an epoch for Pierson. The beautiful church was gone, and all that was left were memories. His preaching and purpose became more passionate after this event. He no longer held to his notes, but instead allowed the Spirit to speak in him and through him when speaking to the people. While pastoring, his heart never veered far from missions and this eventually became his focus. The Missionary Review of the World said, “His ruling passion, as one has well said, was the ‘evangelization of the world.’” The book claims that he was more knowledgeable about missions than any man during his time. He decided to partake in the thing he felt most passionate about: the mission field. However, while on mission, he became ill and was never able to fully participate.
He was many things to many people in his adult years. He was a hard worker for the gospel, never wasting a moment. He even rose early in the morning to devote himself to personal Bible study and prayer. He truly had a heart for people and the Gospel. Pierson was honest about the Gospel. He did not even tell people what they wanted to hear, but instead what they needed to hear. He was always truthful. The Missionary Review of the World said of his honesty, “This characteristic often led him to say apparently harsh and unkind things, but it was a surgeon’s kindness that pointed out the disease and desired to effect a cure.” His kind and gentle spirit was often admired by others. He never invested in his own interests and cares, but instead would give without hesitation to others when they were in need. He and his wife even gave to others on their birthdays and anniversaries!
It is no wonder that he captivated audiences everywhere he went! He was poetic, forceful, yet gentle all at the same time when he spoke. He truly emphasized the gospel in his messages. He was a firm believer in premillennial coming of the Lord and often preached this with authority and conviction. He was a firm believer in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ, the heart of the Gospel. He collaborated with D.L. Moody, who even often asked for his assistance. He also filled in and assisted Charles Spurgeon when his health was preventing him from serving his church. The verse that describes him the most (and was read at his funeral) is “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
The New Song
Unto him to the glory for ever. Amen.
He maketh the rebel a priest and a king,
If he never had loved us till cleansed from our sin.
Duffield, Samuel Willoughby. English Hymns. Funk, 1886.
The Missionary Review of the World. Missionary Review Pub. Co., 1920.
Melody Publications' focus is to reawaken the melody of truth in believers' hearts and minds at home and abroad. Our prayer is that our work would aid churches and families as they sing "Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs" in praise and worship to our God.
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