[return to PART III.]
SUPPLEMENT TO PART III.
Intended to show the application of our Covenanted Testimony to the existing condition of society in the United States of North America.
Our covenanted progenitors who survived the prelatic persecution in Scotland, being bereft of a gospel ministry, by the martyrdom of the pious and faithful James Renwick (1688), continued and transmitted the testimony of Jesus Christ, by meeting for social worship in private fellowships. They are hence known in history as—"The Society People." For this kind of communion they found sufficient divine warrant. Mal. 3:16; Acts 16:13. Having witnessed faithfully in their trying circumstances against the apostasy of the churches and kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland, from the Covenanted Reformation for a period of about sixteen years, they gladly welcomed the ministry of John M’Millan, though suspended and deposed by the Revolution Church of Scotland. This "little reviving in their bondage" the Lord vouchsafed in 1706. During about thirty years, Mr. M’Millan alone bore aloft the banner inscribed with all reformation attainments; until he was joined by Mr. Thomas Nairn, in 1743, when the Reformed Presbytery was first organized, after the Revolution Settlement in Scotland, in the year 1732, some ministers separated from the Revolution church of Scotland, but still maintained allegiance to the British throne. They took the name of "Associate Presbytery. Some time after their secession from the Established Revolution Church, they issued a Judicial Testimony ostensibly for the whole of the Covenanted Reformation, in which testimony were contained severe strictures on the Reformed Presbytery’s principles on magistracy. These strictures furnished occasion for what is known in history as "The Secession Controversy." Besides what is contained in the foregoing Act, Declaration, and Testimony, first emitted at Ploughlandhead, Scotland, in 1761, the reader is referred to some replies made to said strictures, presenting arguments in defence of the Reformed Presbytery’s position on civil government, logical, scriptural, and hitherto unanswered.
Prior to the Revolution, by which the British colonies in America became the United States, a presbytery had been constituted in this country by three ministers, Messrs. John Cuthbertson, William Linn, and Alexander Dobbin, with ruling elders, in 1774. The Revolutionary war carried away many Covenanters from their distinctive principles; and in consequence the presbytery was dissolved. Those three ministers, joining with some of the Seceders, formed a new body, which assumed the name "Associate Reformed Church." This union was effected in 1782, after five years’ negotiation. Founded in compromise of distinctive principle on both sides, and minorities refusing to concur, the boasted union made three churches out of two! As a basis of union, the new body professed to receive the Westminster formularies. At the time of uniting, certain sections of the Confession were reserved for future discussion; which in process of time were rejected, as they had previously been by the General Assembly and other denominations. This attack upon the Confession was zealously opposed by two ministers in the body, Messrs. M’Coy and Warwick, who separated from that communion, forming a new organization, styled "Reformed Dissenting Presbytery." In 1808, this party issued what they called a "Narrative and Testimony;" in which document, Psalmody and Toleration were treated with commendable fidelity, if with limited erudition.
The Reformed Presbytery, which had been dissolved by the defection of Messrs. Cuthbertson, Linn, and Dobbin, was reorganized in the Spring of 1789, by Messrs. James M’Kinney and William Gibson, with ruling elders. While the remnant were destitute of presbyterial supervision, Mr. James Reid was sent over by the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland; and after having travelled from South Carolina to New York: "strengthening the things that remained, that were ready to die," he returned to Europe in the summer of 1790.
About the close of the eighteenth century, some Covenanters joined the United Irishmen, to emancipate themselves from the British throne. This enterprise proved abortive, as might have been expected, being in violation of the divine law and their own vows. (Is. 8:11, 12.) Many of them fled to America as an asylum, by which means the Covenanted church was increased in this land. Among the immigrants were Rev. William Gibson, Messrs. S.B. Wylie and John Black, the latter two being alumni of Glasgow University; and, together with Alexander M’Leod and Thomas Donnelly, were shortly afterward inducted into the Presbytery. In the year 1804, the measure was adopted of framing a document which was intended to supplant the Scottish Testimony. It was designated Reformation Principles Exhibited [published in 1806/7], and was designed to be thenceforward one of the conditions of which fellowship, in the United States. This was a divisive measure, tending to sever the tie which had hitherto connected the children in this land, with the mother church in Europe. In process of time, this tendency became fully developed by some joining in the war of 1812. The men who had the principal hand in giving shape to this document, though respectable the talents and literature, were young in years, and comparative novices, not having been trained in the fellowship of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Settled in pastoral charges in some of the commercial cities of the land, these men were surrounded with temptations many and pressing, and a disposition to temporize was manifested by them soon after their principles had been exhibited. They began to be noticed with respect and professions of esteem by the ministers of other churches. As a natural consequence of familiarity with more corrupt denominations, a motion was made, in 1823, to open correspondence with the judicatories of other churches. This motion was resisted, and for the time defeated. At next meeting, a measure was brought before the body (which in 1809 had become a Synod), by a proposal from the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, to correspond by delegation. This proposal found, advocates, but was also defeated. immediately after the failure of this measure, a number of the junior ministers forsook the reformation ranks, and most of them consorted with the General Assembly.
In the year 1828, the Synod gave its sanction to the Colonization Society, a scheme devised for removing the free people of color to Africa, that, this disturbing element being gradually removed, their sable brethren might be more securely and legally held in bondage. This policy prevailed in Synod till 1836, when its patronage was transferred to the "Cause of Abolition." During this period, the spirit of declension still progressing, in the year 1831, some of the most distinctive and practical principles of the church were openly thrown into debate in the pages of a monthly periodical, under the head of "Free Discussion." Through the corrupting influence of that journal, patronized by eminent ministers, a large proportion—nearly one-half—of the ministry were prepared at next meeting of Synod, in 1833, to renounce the peculiar principles and long known usages of the church. Organizing themselves as a separate body, yet claiming the historical and honorable name—Reformed Presbyterian Church, they deliberately, and soon after avowedly, incorporated with the national society; and some of the senior ministers, in their old age more fully to evidence their loyalty to a government, against whose infidelity and oppression they had long testified, took the oath of naturalization—thus breaking down the carved work which they had previously and painfully labored to build. Gal. 2:18.
By the disruption of 1833, some fondly hoped that the church was now purged of the leaven which had been in operation all along since the adoption of Reformation Principles Exhibited. At the first meeting, however, after the disruption, a perverse spirit was manifest among members of the Synod, 1834. The altercation and bitterness with which the rival claims of the Colonization and Abolition societies were discussed, evidenced to those who were free from the infection of these and other associations—the exfoliations of Anti-Christ—that some of those present viewed these popular movements as transcending in importance the covenanted testimony of the church; and hence, as the practice of occasional hearing was on the increase, Synod, when memorialized on the subject, refused to declare "the law of the house." The spirit of conformity to the world became more manifest at the next meeting, when Synod was importuned from East and West, by petition, memorial, protest, and appeal, growing out of the increasing practice of ministers and people incorporating with the voluntary associations of the age. The response to those papers given by Synod, was as ambiguous as on any former occasion. A minority, however, resisted the factious course of the majority, and some dissents were recorded, while others were refused merely on technical ground. Hope was cherished that this check, so publicly given, together with the visibly demoralizing effects of moral amalgamation, so contrary to the divine haw and the footsteps of the flock, would induce even reckless innovators to pause. This hope, however rational and sanguine, was totally dissipated in 1838, when Synod’s table was literally crowded with the letters, petitions, remonstrances, memorials, protests, and appeals of a reclaiming people. The grievances of the children of witnessing and martyred ancestors, were treated with tire utmost contempt—"laid on the table—returned," with the cry—"let them be kicked under the table," &c. And when some attempted to urge their right to be heard, they were called to order, treated with personal insult, or subjected to open violence. While the elements of a popular mob were visible all over the assembly—mingled cries of "Order, Moderator! put them out!—bring the constable!" were heard; and two members, Messrs. Sharpe and Bartley, were forcibly pushed along two aisles of the house of worship, until the coat of the latter was torn on his back! Amidst the uproar which prevailed, the question spontaneously arose in some hearts, "Is the Lord among us, or not?"
When Synod met in 1840, the same measures which had been carried by mob violence at the previous meeting, were pressed as before, but with less violence and tumult, leaders having learned caution from some consequences resulting from their former outrageous conduct.
Matters had now come to a crisis, when a reclaiming minority were reduced to the dilemma—either quietly to acquiesce in the practical subversion of the Covenanted Constitution of the church; or, by a separate organization, attempt to make up the breach, made by an irreclaimable majority. Which alternative was duty, may be ascertained both from the nature of the ease, and from the well-defined footsteps of the flock, Reformation in the church has ever been effected by the protestation and separation of a virtuous minority. At this juncture, a paper was publicly read in court by one of the members, as a final test of the Synod’s purpose, and as exhausting all legal means of arresting defection. Of said paper a true copy is here given:—
PREAMBLE AND RESOLUTIONS.
"Whereas, It is the province and indispensable duty of this Synod, when society is in a state of agitation as at present, to know the signs of the times, and what Israel ought to do; and whereas, it is also the duty of this Synod, to testify in behalf of truth; to condemn sin and testify against those who commit it; to acquaint, our people with their danger, and search, into the causes of God’s controversy with them and with us; and whereas, it is the duty of Synod further, to point out to the people of God the course to be pursued, that divine judgments may be averted or removed—therefore, Resolved,
"1. That uniting with, or inducing to fellowship, by the members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, in the voluntary and irresponsible associations of the day—composed of persons of all religious professions and of no profession be condemned, as unwarranted by the word of God, the subordinate standards of the church, and the practice of our covenanted fathers.
"2. That an inquiry be instituted, in order to ascertain the grounds of the Lord’s controversy with us, in the sins of omission and commission wherewith we are chargeable in our ecclesiastical relations.
"3. That the sins thus ascertained be confessed, mourned over, and forsaken, and our engagement to the contrary duties renewed; that the Lord may return, be entreated of his people, and leave a blessing behind him."
This paper was, on motion, instantly "laid on the table;" and when at a subsequent sitting of the court, it was regularly called up for action, it was again and finally "laid on the table." Ever since, that paper has been diligently misrepresented, as consisting of the first resolution only, contrary to the evidence on its own face; and many similar misrepresentations have been long circulated by the backsliding majority. Those members of Synod who had opposed innovations and defections, resided so far apart (hundreds of miles), that they had no opportunities for consultation or concerted action, except at the meeting of Synod. A few of them, however, after the final adjournment, came together from their lodgings in the adjacent cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny. When met, it appeared that, without pre-concert, they were unanimous in judgment, that, all legal means having failed to reclaim their backsliding brethren, their present duty was to assume a position independent of existing organizations, that they might, untrammeled, carry out practically their covenanted testimony. Accordingly, two ministers and three ruling elders did proceed to constitute the Reformed Presbytery, in the city of Allegheny. June 24th, 1840, as the following document bears:—
DEED OF CONSTITUTION.
We, the undersigned, ministers and elders of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, familiar with, and having long witnessed declension in the aforesaid church, and employed all other scriptural means to stay its progress without effect: Also recognizing the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of all such as desire let be faithful; compassionating the condition of those who, by unholy confederacies, are still "entangled in the wilderness:" considering the necessities or others, who, to maintain a good, conscience, have been constrained to unite in the "safety League," which covers the whole ground of our covenanted system:—Do now, trusting to the faithfulness of the God of our fathers, and relying on the strength or promised grace; after the example or the venerable Rev. William Gibson, who "kept the faith,"—enter and record our solemn protestation against the aforesaid church, because she has corrupted the doctrines and worship, and prostituted the government and discipline of the house of God; and we do hereby decline the authority of all her judicatories.
We acknowledge the supreme authority or the Lord Jesus Christ, the only King and Head of his church; the binding obligation of the solemn deeds of our covenanted forefathers—resting upon our souls, by our own, voluntary engagements, viz: besides the word of God, the Westminster Confession of Faith, Catechisms. larger and shorter, the Directory for Worship as they were received by the Church of Scotland in her purest times, i.e. between the years 1638 and 49 inclusive, the Covenants, National and Solemn League, Reformation Principles Exhibited, in agreeableness to the aforesaid Standards; together with the faithful contendings of our covenanted fathers: in a word—all the documents contemplated, regarded, and as engaged unto in the Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion in the Reformed Presbyterian Church.
In virtue of and in accordance with. the aforesaid principles and declarations, we unite and agree to continue a Presbytery
Done in Allegheny Town,
The declining party continued in their course of defection, pursuing those who had relinquished their schismatic fellowship, as is usual in such cases, with slanderous imputations and pretended censure. During the last quarter of a century, their progressive conformity to surrounding communities has been accelerated, so that their practical traits are contradictory to their pretensions, as will afterwards more fully appear.
The Reformed Presbyterian Synod of Scotland, as early as 1815, began to give evidence of declension. In 1822, the Auchensaugh Deed was expunged from their Terms of Communion. This unfaithful act was the formal ground of separation by the oldest minister, the aforementioned Mr. James Reid, who continued "faithful unto death," declaring at his latter end, that "he could not have laid his head upon a dying pillow in peace if he had not acted as he did in that matter."
Deaf to the remonstrances of this aged minister and tried witness for Christ’s injured cause, both in America and his native land, the majority pursued the course of defection, until in 1837 they remodeled their Testimony; and now (1876) they abandon it altogether, taking refuge in the General Assembly of the Free church. From this same Reformed Presbyterian Synod of Scotland, Dr. John Cunningham, missionary to the Jews in London, separated in 1859, on similar ground as Mr. Reid, and like him, kept the faith till his death. A few other ministers withdrew from the majority in 1863, on valid grounds indeed but failed to reach the elevation of our noble martyrs, fully occupied by Mr. Reid and Dr. Cunningham. This minority claimed, and it continues to claim, the synodical powers of the original body; and it has been recognized as such by the so-called Old Light Synods of America and Ireland; both of which Synods declined to recognize Mr. Reid or Dr. Cunningham, preferring, fellowship with the Scottish Synod when it was confessedly "rotten to the core." Had not, then, the members of the Reformed Presbytery, while in Synod, just cause for asking in their 2d resolution already recited, an "inquiry into our ecclesiastical relations?"
This brief historical sketch may serve to show the outlines of the courses pursued respectively by the several parties in the British Isles and America, who have made the most plausible professions of attachment to that work in the kingdom of Scotland especially, which has been called the Second Reformation. Other parties, however, have appeared in this country, who have long claimed to share the honor of the term Reformed. Negotiations were commenced for organic union by four of these, viz: The Associate Synod, Associate Reformed Synod, General Synod of Reformed Presbyterians (New Lights), and Reformed Dissenting Presbytery. After some conventional meetings, the last two named withdrew from any further negotiations, but the first two effected what they called a union; while spectators viewed the matter rather as absorption of the Associate by the Associate Reformed body. This was effected in 1858, and shortly before this coalescence, the Reformed Dissenting Presbytery had become extinct.
But fidelity to Zion’s King, as well as charity to these backsliding parties, and the informing of the present and future generations, require us to notice more formally some of the prominent measures of these ecclesiastical bodies, and thus manifest more fully their relations respectively to the Covenanted Reformation. It is not to be expected by the reader, however, that all the erroneous principles or steps of defection, supplied by the history of these communities, can be noticed in this Appendix. To direct the honest inquiries of those who love divine truth, and to assist them in that process of reasoning by which facts are compared with acknowledged Standards, supreme and subordinate, that their moral character may be tested, is all that is proposed in the following sections:—
SECTION I. Those who separated from the Revolution Church of Scotland, in the former part of the eighteenth century, and disregarded the unrighteous censures inflicted by their brethren in the church, still held allegiance to the civil powers, which controlled and corrupted the church. This practical inconsistency on the part of the first Seceders, necessitated an attempt at argumentative defense. Assuming as axiomatic, that the popular will, or consent of a majority, legitimates any and every magistracy, logical reasoning drove them to erroneous conclusions; as, That Christ as Mediator does not rule the nations: that believers do not owe to him temporal blessings. Gen. 13:17; Rom 4:13. They, moreover, professed adherence to the whole of the covenanted reformation, and even to renew the Covenants, National and Solemn League, while professing allegiance to the British throne, which overthrew the reformation! Their brethren in America assisted the Colonies in their successful resistance to British oppression; to resist which on the other side of the Atlantic, was a damnable sin! They have, indeed, in this land consistently renounced the civil part of the covenants, declaring that "with this part they neither have, nor ever had any thing to do," thereby insinuating that the obligation of the second table of the moral law changes, or may be abrogated, by change in the local habitation of Christians. By the acknowledged piety and learning of Seceders, both in the British Isles and America, their advocacy of these fundamental errors for more than a century, has given them more currency and credit, than they ever received perhaps from any other denomination. In charity to these brethren, we are constrained to continue the testimony heretofore borne against them; for doctrinally and practically corrupting the divine ordinance of civil government.
SEC. II. A large majority of the Associate and Associate Reformed churches, having formed a union in 1858, as above stated, by which an additional sect was created, the parties contracting came together upon a "Basis of Union," which some of the leaders described as a "bridge over which the parties might come together, and to he demolished as soon as the union was consummated." However, as the Associate fragment insisted upon having a judicial testimony, the majority gratified them so far as to designate the basis of union by the imposing name—"Testimony of the United Presbyterian Church." This so-called testimony differs in its integral parts, and as a whole, from any preceding documents of that name. In the range of doctrinal declarations it is very limited; and it profess to allow any member of the body to oppose any of the Standards, only provided he does not "determinedly oppose." It also explicitly excludes argument, and the proofs from Scripture by which the doctrines are supported, from the conditions of fellowship in the body. Consequently their testimony is, in practice, no better than a rope of sand. This has become manifest in the case of Freemasonry, &c. On Toleration, Church Fellowship, Psalmody Covenanting, Family Worship, Ecclesiastical Government and Discipline, this body is further degenerated than either of the parties of which it was composed. We therefore testify against these brethren, not only because of defection from a Scriptural reformation, but also because they notoriously violate with impunity their own acknowledged terms of fellowship.
SEC. III. The Reformed Dissenting Presbytery embraced more of the distinctive principles of the covenanted reformation than either of the parties above noticed. On the doctrines of magistracy and toleration, abstractly considered, they manifested commendable fidelity. By separating in law the representative from his constituency in civil relations, they claimed it as their right to choose their civil rulers, while they maintained that to fill the office themselves would be sinful! Thus, "having no root, they, withered away."
SEC. IV. Those who, in 1833, openly avowed themselves in favor of the Constitution and Government of the United States, in conformity to their interpretation of Reformation Principles Exhibited, and who separated from the majority, erected separate judicatories, and claimed the identity and name of the original body! As their incorporation with the civil institutions of the land leaves them without any distinctive principles front some surrounding denominations, their claims are preposterous. Their plighted allegiance, however, to the government of the United States is a palpable violation of the Solemn League, which limits allegiance to civil sovereignty in the "preservation and defence of the true religion." As in most other churches, discipline is greatly relaxed.
SEC. V. With those mentioned in the preceding section, may be classed the Eastern Synod of Ireland, and the Majority Synod of Scotland, which parties, since the adoption of their new Terms and Testimony, in 1822 and 1837, have been incorporated with the immoral and anti-christian government of Great Britain, co-operating with that horn of the beast, still guilty and red with the precious blood of our martyred fathers. Length of time does not expiate the guilt contracted by shedding the innocent blood of Christ’s faithful witnesses. Matt. 23:25; Heb. 12:24. On both sides of the Atlantic, therefore, these three parties are to be classified for they have avowedly classified themselves—with that "world who wonder after the beast," Rev. 13:3, against whose blasphemous claims Christ’s witnesses are called to testify during 1260 years, ch. 11:3.
SEC. VI. Against that party in the three nations, Scotland, Ireland, and America, commonly but improperly called Old Lights, we are obliged to testify more pointedly, than against any other party claiming to be reformed Presbyterians. First, Because we believe there are still among them real Covenanters in their private faith, as there were among the ten tribes of Israel; and in proportion, a greater number than in any other fellowship. Second, Because their leaders make the fairest show in the flesh, and calculating upon spiritual sloth and the force of confirmed habit, still hope to lead honest people insensibly into Egypt. Such honest ones, who are "wandering from mountain to hill forgetting, their resting place," we would aim to undeceive, if the Lord will; for we earnestly desire renewed fellowship with all such on original ground.
I. In Reformation Principles Exhibited, the formal nature of a judicial testimony was changed. History and argument were excluded from the Terms of Communion: but these are the essential elements of a faithful Testimony. The Reformed Presbytery did therefore, in 1840, declare adherence to so much of R. P. Exhibited as is comprised in the "Historical View" from 1761 till 1840. This is the import of the words used at the latter date—"in agreeableness to the aforesaid Standards." The exclusion of history and argument has opened a floodgate for error, alienation and separation among professed Covenanters for the past seventy years.
II. The policy of the Old Light Synod, in 1833, was very similar to that of the Revolution Assembly of Scotland, in 1689. As the indulged and curates were admitted to seats in court; so some were received as members of Synod 1833, who, on giving in their certificates of delegation, expressly claimed a right "to withdraw them, if they should see cause—yea, one of these was placed in the Moderator’s chair. At that meeting, it was urged that the Argumentative part of "Reformation Principles Exhibited" should be hastened to completion, but without effect.
III. At the next meeting, 1834, when another edition of that book was ordered to be published, with a continuation of the Historical part, together with Terms of Communion, it was urged that the defect in the first Term be supplied by inserting the words—"and the alone infallible rule of faith and manners." In the new edition; 1835, these all-important words were omitted as before! Even at that date, some of the ministers seemed to be influenced more by popular opinion than by the infallible rule. Not until the year 1849 was the second member of the first Term inserted; and even then, by a clause more obnoxious and dangerous than the previous omission—"the only rule of faith and practice," thus virtually excluding Subordinate Standards altogether.
IV. In 1836, some members petitioned for relief, who had been suspended for refusing to receive the sacramental symbols from the hands of pastors who were confederated with all sorts of persons for moral reform. The perpetrators of this tyranny called out in Synod, that "such papers were, not fit to be read," &c. "Revolters are profound to make slaughter." We testify against the outrage offered at that; time to members of court, in refusing to allow their dissents to he entered on the minutes; and especially against the gross injustice done to aggrieved members, by returning their papers as "abusive, insulting," &c., as if petitioning for redress of wrongs, and enforcing prayers by dispassionate and solid arguments from the Bible and approved authors, were an insult!
V. The Synod was asked, in 1838 most respectfully, formally, and explicitly, to review and rectify some cases of high-handed tyranny, chiefly through the influence of that party who caused the lamentable breach in 1833; as some of the subjects of that tyranny were yet writhing under a sense of accumulated wrongs. "That the term testimony be restored to its former ecclesiastical use," was also matter of respectful petition at the same time. Whether through apathy, ignorance, or other cause, Synod turned a deaf ear to her most faithful children, and refused either redress or reformation.
For the first time in two hundred years, the innovation of continuous singing in the public worship, of God, found advocates at that meeting of Synod; and because the two most zealous pleaders in favor of this innovation were natives of Scotland, and the only two ministerial members of court of that nationality, their names are here recorded, viz: Messrs. James Milligan and David Scott. They received merited reproof in a seasonable and powerful speech by the late Dr. James R. Wilson. If the apostle Paul, in view of the law of charity, would condescend to the means of edifying "one that believed not, or one unlearned, coming into the assembly’’ of Christians, 1 Cor. 14:24; much more ought the Psalm to be read, "line by line, while many in the congregation could not read." Against this violation of the moral law, still prevalent, we continue to testify; for unbelievers and the unlearned do still "come into the assembly." 1 Cor. 10:32. Alas! many who can read in our day, seem to continue ignorant of that law equally with the gospel!
VI. In 1840, the Synod was what is technically called a packed court, some new elders having been hastily ordained for the purpose of voting in presbytery in favor of delegates to Synod, who could aid in voting for corrupt measures. One Moderator gave the casting vote for his own son; and these were the same who afterwards pretended to suspend the constituent members of the Reformed Presbytery! This Synod abolished the two subordinate Synods, after they were legally dead, as declared by Rev. Hugh Walkinshaw on the floor of the court. Next, by formal vote, it abrogated its own delegation form, and thus terminated its legal existence. Since that date, this body has had no legal ecclesiastical court of higher grade than presbyteries; and even one of these, the Lakes Presbytery, had an illegitimate origin. Against these violations of Presbyterial Church Government, by which schism has been rendered chronic, we enter our solemn protest. Again, these brethren declared their sin as Sodom, when, in the late civil war, the President called for volunteers "to enforce the Constitution and execute the laws," may of their people entered the army, and one of their ministers commanded a company! That individual, and many others, are still held in good standing, in 1863 they framed an oath to be "faithful to the United States," assuring their people that it was not an "oath of allegiance!" Now, we believe, with the late Rev. William Anderson, of Scotland, that no ingenuity or sophistry can justify their fighting for a government or constitution which they themselves declared to be immoral; nor can any arguments prove the consistency of testifying against a constitution as immoral, and in the same time offering their lives in its defence. This we pronounce a more palpable and dishonorable surrender of the testimony, than that of 1838. "The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah."
The practice of confederating with all sorts of people ostensibly to promote moral reformation in society, has been on the increase among these brethren for many years; so that now they freely amalgamate both in civil and ecclesiastical relations. First, They formally abolished the Proclamation of Banns, which the reformers had established to preserve the purity of Christian families. Second, They have practically set aside the Rule on Occasional Hearing, by transferring the Rule from the Declaratory to the Historical part of Reformed Principles Exhibited. Third, They hold fellowship with denominations against which they testify, by appointing and receiving delegates reciprocally in their respective judicatories—a self-inconsistent and unfaithful practice, which had been once and again successfully resisted in the last generation; and some of them have been commissioned to a proposed convention to effect a sort of Ecumenical Presbyterial Confederation! Fourth, Co-operating in "National Reform," they mingle with prelates and others on popular platforms, against whom they pretend to bear testimony. And, Fifth, Having by these manifold steps of detection, in conforming to this world, considerably increased in numbers, and still more in financial resources; distrusting the Head of the church and each other, they have sought and obtained a civil charter for the greater security of their entire ecclesiastical property. We know not in history a debasing act analogous to this, except the letter of the Indulged to James II, in which they "thanked his majesty for his surprising royal favour." The Indulged, however, had been forcibly deprived of the exercise of their ministry—not so our brethren; they did, like Issachar, bow their necks to the yoke in the most spontaneous and abject manner, receiving the desired boon, with all its anti-scriptural conditions and offices, subject to the "Constitutions of the United States and of Pennsylvania!!!" Against the above systematic course of backsliding, persistently carried on for many years, the Reformed Presbytery enters and records its solemn protest.
The Bond adopted in Pittsburgh, 1871, by a majority of these former brethren, must be regarded as comprising the whole series of defection, some steps only of which have been specified. It has been truly but mildly termed "a blunder" by some among themselves; and by many it has been conceded that it is so "defective" as to require it to be "supplemented." Well, when presbyteries sessions, and individuals shall have added their several—and most assuredly conflicting—additions, how shall it, be regarded as a BOND? Even of their ownselves, some view it as a "substitute," others as a "renovation" of the original covenants. Without entering upon an analysis of its errors and defects, we hereby judicially pronounce it a deceptive and perfidious document. Of course, those Synods of Scotland and Ireland, which hold fellowship with adherents to the "American Covenant," must be regarded and reckoned as in the same category.
In this age of boasted charity, but really "detestable neutrality and indifferency," it is an irksome and painful task, but a duty, thus to bear testimony against churches, in which are to be found, no doubt, many precious sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty. But personal piety never was, nor possibly can it be, the condition of fellowship in the visible church. To think so, and say so, is one of the most popular delusions of the present day. It puts the supposed pious man, speaking his experience, in the place of God, speaking his sovereign will in the Bible. This is the height of impiety. Fidelity to Christ and our solemn covenant engagements, as also charity to all parties, require that we both speak and act as witness.
The presbytery would now advert to some of the many false statements and slanderous imputations, with which its constituent members were assailed as the time of separation from their irreclaimable brethren, thirty-five years ago; and which some of the senior ministry have sedulously propagated among the younger ones till the present time. With grief we might, though we will not, with application, say with Jacob of his own sons, "Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel." The senior member of the Reformed Presbytery [Robert Lusk] had been long an object of slander, and malice pursued him to the grave. The junior member [David Steele] has been spared in mercy, to outlive, expose, and refute similar imputations and groundless insinuations.
Some of those charges are the following—for even a Heathen "permitted Paul to speak for himself" Acts 26:1.
The first cry against the presbyters and its members was—"schism—schismatics!" This charge was promptly and publicly met and refuted, by showing from the Scriptures, that schism is—"in the body," 1 Cor. 12:26; and from the approved writings of our reformed covenanting fathers, that "sometimes to avoid schism, we must separate." Our worthy ancestors knew better than to adopt the vocabulary of papal Rome. Besides, "the majority making defection are the real separatists." (Samuel Rutherford).
But, the separation was made in a "disorderly manner," said our accusers. Did a declining majority ever credit a minority with separating in an orderly manner? No, never. But it is further urged, why did the minority not protest and decline the authority of Synod, assigning their reasons? Simply because there was no Synod in legal being, before which to table such instruments, as has been already shown. Neither the laws nor usages of Presbyterianism required the minority thus to stultify themselves. Moreover, the Reformed Presbytery, so soon as organized, of right, claimed and possessed judicial powers, at least co-ordinate with any court in the party from which they had been constrained to separate.
Again, a member of presbytery was charged in print with prowling about among the congregations of the minority. To prowl is the well-known propensity of the literal wolf to devour prey. In Scripture, the wolf is a symbol of cunning and cruelty; Acts 20:29. To this we only say, we envy not the disposition of any man, who could make such a gratuitous and malignant application of a sacred symbol. And we are sure that no minister of the Reformed Presbytery has obtruded himself upon any of the former brethren, without a cordial invitation first received from them.
The last charge we notice is—The Reformed Presbytery is "opposed to all progress." To this it is answered,—by no means—every way the contrary, in accordance with the alone infallible rule; for "Christ’s scholars never learn above their Bible." This presbytery believes firmly, that the testimony of Christ’s witnesses is necessarily progressive, and that it will assuredly advance in the thee of all opposition till it be "finished." Rev. 11:7. There is no such anomalous document recognized among the faithful witnesses as a "Standing Testimony." All such measures of compromise they must repudiate. The church of God is one, Song 6:9; Eph. 4:4-6; the only true historical society on earth; Ps. 89:29; 105:10; Rom. 4:13; the only indestructible and immortal corporation. Is. 44:17; Matt. 16:18. Her earnest contendings against the devil, the world, and the flesh, are to be put on record, but not to be confounded with confession of her faith, though both be inseparable. Thus it is that when the spouse is in perplexity, as to present duty, her glorious Husband directs, to "go her way forth by the footsteps of the flock;" Song 1:8; to "take for an example of sufferings affliction and of patience, the prophets who have spoken in the name of the Lord." Jas. 5:10. Christ himself hath left us an example that we should "follow his steps," as well as receive his doctrines. In total disregard of such plain and reiterated declarations of the Holy Spirit, all the so-called judicial testimonies, which have been emitted since the overthrow of the Second Reformation, have excluded history and argument—the very essence of a testimony, save that faithful and Scriptural one adopted in 1761, re-published in 1850, with a progressive supplement. Thus different parties claiming to be the followers of Christ’s witnesses, have palmed upon a credulous world a confession, instead of a testimony. The Reformed Presbytery would earnestly desire to disabuse the Christian mind of this gross deception and great imposition, by which many sincere and devout disciples are befogged and distracted.
1. The Bible, both Old and New Testament, is largely historical—the books of Genesis and Matthew beginning with narrative, the wonderful works of God. It is thus adapted to the rational nature of man, and equally to the spiritual nature of the new man.
2. The church cannot ascertain the fulfillment of prophecy the cumulating external evidence of her divine original: nor can Christ’s witnesses otherwise than by history identify her confederated enemies—the man of sin and son of perdition, his paramour—the well favored harlot, and her harlot daughters—the offspring of her fornication with the kings of the earth.
3. The present cannot in faith confess the sins, or express thanks to God for the mercies, of a former generation, except on the credibility of human history.
4. Nor otherwise can a Christian know the time or place of his birth, or the persons whom God commands him to honor is his father and mother, than by uninspired testimony; and the same is true of his covenant obligation, if baptized in infancy. Against all who ignorantly or recklessly reject or oppose history as a bond fellowship, in the family, in the state, but especially in the church, we thus enter our solemn and uncompromising protest.
And finally, we testify against all who, under pretext of superior charity or liberality, fiercely clamor for union of churches by a sacrifice of divine truth, and in violation of order; or, who advocate intercommunion among bodies organically separate; or who furnish testimonials of Christian character to officers or members, who avow their intention to break covenant; thus inculcating hypocrisy, by precept and example, and reducing the awful sin of perjury to system. By such sinful and debasing practices; by the haughty bearing of idle shepherds of mercenary spirit—"greedy dogs which can never have enough"—the poor sheep of Christ, whose souls starve under a fruitless ministry, are tempted to "heap to themselves teachers"—unauthorized revivalists—who "understand neither what they say, nor whereof the affirm;" and are thus prepared to become the vassals of anti-Christ; to be led blindfold down to the chambers of eternal perdition. And, notwithstanding the judgments of God inflicted on this nation by the recent internecine war, it still refuses to submit to the authority of the Lord and his Anointed. It authoritatively tolerates all religions, necromancy and polygamy; and profanes the Lord’s day by post-office and railway traffic, for profit or pleasure.
"Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shall inherit all nations."
[go to PART IV.]
 The Divine Institution and Right of the Civil Magistrate Vindicated, 1773, by John Thorburn: Answers to Twelve Queries, &c., by Wm. Steven, 1794: An Humble Attempt in Defense of Reformation Principles on the Head of the Civil Magistrate, &c., by John Fairly: Truth no Enemy to Peace: or Animadversions on Fletcher’s Defence of his Scripture Loyalist, by John Reid, 1799: The Mystery of Magistracy Unveiled: or, God’s Ordinance of Magistracy—Vindicated from Heathenish Dominion, Tyrannous, and Anti-christian Usurpation, Despisers of Dignities, &c., 1708, reprinted 1795. [back]
 This is that James Reid who published The Lives of the Westminster Divines, who separated from the Reformed Presbyterian Synod of Scotland when, in 1822, the Terms of Communion were changed; and whose adherents are yet known by the reproachful name—"Auchensaugh people." [back]
 It was well-known to Synod, that New Light ministers from America some of them under suspension—had occupied the pulpits of Old Lights, in Ireland—that of Rev. Dr. Stavely in particular. When challenged by a member of his Session for such disorder, the Dr. replied in substance, "I did it from self-respect."—"But not out of respect for Christ," rejoined the elder. [back]
 This document is thus inserted entire, in perpetuam rei memoriam, and as a summary of the numerous papers from ministers, elders, and members, which had been presented to the several judicatories during the preceding seven years! [back]
 This body is now extinct. [back]
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