Rev Dr Martyn C Cowan
Martyn Cowan studied philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast (BA and MA) and went on to se…View all articles
In the summer of 2018 we had a refresh of the College’s Coat of Arms. With the help of a digital heraldic artist we were introduced to a whole new world of heraldry with escutcheons, crests, helms and mantling.
In this image (termed ‘the full achievement’) you can see the arms and crest that was granted to the College by Royal licence and authority in 1958. Most prominent is the burning bush which has been a key motif for Irish Presbyterians since the mid–nineteenth century when the Assembly’s College in Belfast was originally founded. The two silver inkhorns are a suitable reminder of the two historic colleges of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland that that were united in 1978. The helmet, with its silver and azure wreath, is associated with hands thrusting forward a book, an apt reminder that ‘the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds’ as they bring down proud arguments and ‘take every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:4–5).
Union College’s Latin motto, veritatem eme et noli vendere, is taken from Proverbs 23:23 – ‘buy the truth and sell it not’. The seventeenth–century Reformed Orthodox theologian Thomas Goodwin applied this verse to those he termed ‘scholars’ in his treatise The Glory of the Gospel.
My Exhortation shall be unto all, to procure and heap up to themselves what of spiritual Knowledge possibly they can, in these Mysteries of the Gospel, for you encrease your Riches: The Truth which by it, I speak unto all, but especially unto you that are Scholars, who come hither to furnish your selves, as Scribes fitted for the Kingdom of Heaven, to bring forth out of your Treasures and Store acquired here both New and Old, as Christ speaks, to buy the truth as Solomon, so as to be able to teach it to others; you come as Whole–sale Men to buy by the Great. Therefore Treasure up as much, and as many precious Truths as you can, and Grace withal to vent by Retail in the Country, where you are sent Abroad.
First, Enquire and Learn where these Treasures are to be had, even in the Scriptures. The Merchant who knew the Pearl, was fain to buy the Field, there the Pearl lay: Timothy from a Child had read the Scriptures, and so should you do […]. Do as Merchants, who travel from Place to Place, so do you from Scripture to Scripture, comparing one with another, and Knowledge will be increased.
Secondly, Go to the Markets and Ware–houses, of those that have laid in, or discovered much of this Treasure (that is) use the Helps of Godly Mens Writings and Conferences: The Help of Saints both Dead and Alive, why? Because it is made manifest to the Saints. The Angels do learn of the Church, and why not we?