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Database

1893.

James Dodson

MINUTES

OF THE

GENERAL MEETING

OF THE

REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

 

HOUSE OF JAMES ANDERSON, NORTH UNION,

BUTLER Co., PA., June 12, 1893.

The General Meeting of the Reformed Presbyterian Church met, according to adjournment, and was opened with prayer. Members present: James Anderson, David A. Renfrew, George Love and Henry M. Hartzell, of North Union, Pa.; George Alexander; of Allegheny, Pa. J.F. Fulton, minister, was present.

The former Moderator and Clerk were continued.

The minutes were read. An omission of the acknowledgment of the donation of Miss Perry, of Dumfries, Scotland, was noted. They were then adopted.

The days of Fasting and Thanksgiving had been observed.

The report of George Alexander and H.M. Hartzell on Miss Jane Young’s donation was approved.

The Committee on the Signs of the Times reported in part. D.A. Renfrew and J.F. Fulton were directed to complete the Report and publish it with the Minutes.

The last Thursday of November, 1893, was appointed as a day of Thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of February, 1894, as a day of Fasting.

Adjourned with prayer, to meet in the bounds of North Union congregation, on the second Monday of June, 1894.

GEORGE LOVE, Chairman.

DAVID A. RENFREW, Clerk.

CAUSES OF FASTING.

In considering the causes that call upon us to humble ourselves before our Covenant God, we will bring under review the sins of the family, the church and the state. If each of these Divine institutions was placed on its own base, clearly marked out in the Scriptures, the evils that afflict human society would be greatly abated.

We reassert the doctrine "That the family is the great primary institution, and that the church and the state are auxilliary to it, and that the authority of both ought to be employed to enable it to perform the duties enjoined on it by its Divine Author."

The Scriptures do not leave us to infer, from an abstruse course of reasoning, what was God’s object in constituting the family relation. Mal. 2:15. And did He not make one? Yet had He the residue of the Spirit. And wherefore one? That He might seek a Godly seed. What was God’s object in creating the family ought to be the motive of everyone who enters into that holy relation, and those who neglect or scorn the Divine command will inevitably find the result of such conduct to be bitterness. Will a godless husband or a godless wife endeavor to train up children in the way they should go? Prov. 22:6. Or in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Eph 6:4. Parents should act together in the performance of this duty, as a company of horses in Pharoah’s chariots. This cannot be done unless the father and the mother are of one mind in the Lord, and of one mind and one judgment in their views of Divine truth. How can two walk together except they be agreed? Amos 3:3. This form of a question is, in the Scriptures, the strongest denial of an affirmative answer. It is a challenge to the party interrogated to show that it is possible for such a thing to come to pass. If an action so simple as that of two walking together necessarily implies an agreement, how can the complicated and all important duty of training their children for God be performed by parents who differ, in judgment and in heart, about the doctrines they should teach their children, and the duties they should enjoin on them?

We believe that intermarrying with persons of every religious belief, and no religious belief, has done more to bring the Reformed Presbyterian Church to her present low condition than any other cause. The ministry have been chief in this trespass, which we believe to be the reason why there has been very little, if any, faithful testimony against this family and Church destroying sin.

The Scriptures, by precepts, by examples of its evil effects, and by the judgments inflicted on those guilty of this sin, have left professing Christians without any plea of ignorance. It brought the flood upon the world of the ungodly. The godly, in the days of Seth, seeing the evils of associations with carnal and wicked men, entered into a solemn covenant to separate themselves, as far as possible, from their company. 1 Cor. 5:10. In 2 Cor. 6:14,16, the Spirit of God shows the utter inconsistency of believers marrying unbelievers, and, in the 17th verse, commands his people to come out from among the children of Belial, etc., and adds the glorious promise in the 18th verse: "And I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." There can be no doubt in the mind of any sincere enquirer after the path of duty, but that the Holy Spirit in this passage intends to bring before our minds the covenanters in the days of Seth, the main article of whose covenant was that they would not marry apostates from the true religion. Many kept their covenant in the face of reproach and the contempt of ungodly hypocrites, and received the fulfillment of that glorious promise—the grandest promise that was ever made to the children of fallen Adam.

But a generation arose, that by serpentine subtilty evaded their vows. They would argue that "great changes had taken place in the world, since their fathers entered into that covenant, that men were becoming better, were more enlightened, that the times had changed and they had changed with them." It would be contrary to all experience to suppose that the professing people of God, did avowedly break their covenant engagements, and that they did not still glory in the name—"Sons of God." The Jews, when thirsting for the blood of the Saviour, were ready to cry, "We be Abraham’s seed," and how many at the present time, claim to be Covenanters or children of Covenanters, who "abhor" the principles of Covenanters.

The Mediator decided the controversy between those who defended the unhallowed marriages of the Sons of God with the daughters of men and those who testified against them, (for such witnesses there were undoubtedly), by bringing the flood upon the world of the ungodly.

But this testimony of the wrath of God against this sin, did not stop it. It was necessary that warnings against it and commands forbidding it should be incorporated in the law of Moses. God condescended to point out the evils, that necessarily result from this unscriptural and irrational practice. With what amazement and dread of the wrath of God, did holy Ezra learn, that the returning captives, notwithstanding all God had inflicted on them, for this sin, were still deeply immersed in it. With what grief did Nehemiah hear the children of the Jews talking half in the language of the Jews and half in the language of Ashdod. He understood the "mystic power of words," and that the language of Ashdod would soon draw its idolatry after it. Our fathers called the house in which they met to worship God, the "Meeting House or House of Public Worship." Their degenerate posterity called it the "church," and attending public worship, "going to church." This language was learned from the "Mother of Harlots." The social or fellowship meeting is now called the "Prayer Meeting," a term objectionable in itself; because the public worship of God is as much a prayer meeting, as the fellowship meeting.

God has expressly commanded parents to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, Prov. 22:6, and there is no intimation anywhere in the Bible that they may transfer this duty to others. We here earnestly recommend a careful study of Thomas Manton’s Epistle to the Reader, prefixed to the Westminster Confession of Faith. The following from a letter which he partly transcribes, is worthy of earnest thought: "Oh, how sweetly would the work of God go on if we would all join together in our several places to promote it! Men need not then run without sending to be preachers; but they might find that part of the work that belongeth to them to be enough for them, and to be the best they can be engaged in. Especially women should be careful of this duty, because they are more about their children, and have early and frequent opportunities to instruct them, so this is the principal service they can do to God in this world, being restrained from public work. And doubtless many an excellent magistrate hath been sent into the Commonwealth, and many an excellent pastor into the church, and many a pious saint to heaven, through the happy preparation of a holy education, perhaps by a woman that thought herself unserviceable to the church."

Truly every man would find enough to do if he would sincerely and intelligently endeavor to perform the duties of his own station. The father of a family would find the instruction of the children God has given him sufficient to employ all his talent, and he would not be tormented by a vague desire to do good and to run unsent. Mothers would find their greatest happiness in teaching their children and in performing the other duties enjoined on them in God’s word. The letter quoted by Mr. Manton truly says: That the Church and State have been greatly benefited by humble women; and we may add, by women whose names are not found on the historian’s page. but are found on the Lamb’s Book of Life. Though they never sought honor of man, yet they will experience the faithfulness of God’s promise: "Them that honor me, I will honor, but they that despise shall be lightly esteemed."

The visible Church is treading the outer court. Rev. 11:1-2, "And there was given me a reed, like unto a rod, and the angel stood, saying, Rise, measure the temple of God, and the altar and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple, leave out and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under forty and two months."

This reed that was given into the hands of John, we believe, all sound commentators acknowledge to be the completed Canon of Divine Revelation. The object for which it is given into his hands is clearly stated, namely, "To measure the temple of God,"—the Church of the living God. That alone is the true Church which can bear the Measuring Reed, which measures herself by it, and desires others impartially to measure her length and breadth to see whether they have the exact cubits required by her glorious Lord. The nominal Church decries the application of God’s word to her doctrine and order. This is a plain indication that she is conscious that both her profession and practice are not in accordance with the Scriptures.

The Church’s entire condition may be determined by her order, Col. 2:5, "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ." Paul teaches that steadfastness in the faith and order are inseparably connected, and history and observation confirm it. The devil usually, if not always, begins his assaults on the Church by attacking her order. He selects something, which to the carnal mind appears very insignificant, and unworthy of contention. Thus, in the so-called Reformed Presbyterian Church, he tempted two congregations to violate the law of the Church about lining the psalm. This was a gross violation of the brotherly covenant, of the covenanted order of the Church. The whole history of that innovation on the Church’s order, is a recital of the most shameful contempt of the feelings of brethren, of the law of the house, and of its courts. In one instance, Sons of Belial conspired together, and sung continuously, when the Precentor had lined the psalm, according to the direction of the Pastor, who is the authorized director of public worship. Yet these violators of all decency were never called to account by any court having jurisdiction in the case.

We are thus lengthy in describing the breaking this part of the carved work of the sanctuary, to show that continuous singing did not come by the gate, but like a thief over the wall, and because it was accompanied by such malice against a rule which should have been regarded as a wise regulation of our fathers, adapted to their time, even if it were destitute of Scriptural authority save, "Let all things be done decently and in order."

But we are firmly persuaded of its Divine warrant, and that it was because Satan knew that while it was practiced, he could not corrupt the Church as rapidly as he desired, hence the malice against it with which he filled the carnal minds of those opposing this order, and against those who were unwilling to give up the least part of the inheritance of their fathers.

The discipline of the Church is almost entirely broken down. This is verified in the practice of giving certificates of standing to ministers, who openly avow their purpose to go into other communities. If the body giving these certificates has a right to exist as a distinct organization, those asking them are apostates, and worthy of censure. It is no wonder that a community acting in this way, should, within a couple of years, lose a score of her ministers—a large percentage of her whole number.

So far has all respect for the discipline of the Church fallen, that spectators of the trial for heresy or other disorder, do openly show their sympathy with the accused. In one case women placed flowers on the desk of the accused for this purpose, and so far as we can learn, not a member of that court had the Christian fortitude to rebuke the outrage.

We know not how to characterize such conduct. A church court is constituted in the name and by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, the only king and head of the Church, who has said to the officers of his house, "That where two or three are met in my name, there am I in the midst of them." And, "He that despiseth you, despiseth me, and he that despiseth me, despiseth Him that sent me." How clearly do the present confusions, in nominal churches, prove that heresy and disorder are twin sisters.

It is lamentable to see an ecclesiastical body whose Confession of Faith is Calvinistic, tolerating the proposition to expunge from it those doctrines, and incorporate in it Arminian heresies against which its most eminent and honored teachers have testified. Calvin who was honored in his own day, throughout Protestant Europe, as an able counselor in spiritual things, and who, since his death, has received high encomiums from those who differed greatly from him in important matters, has been publicly denounced by a so-called Presbyterian minister as a scoundrel. "Let the lying lips be put to silence, which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous." Ps. 31:18.

It has been published in a prominent newspaper that some ministers are not preaching the historical Jesus, but an ideal Jesus. We give the paragraph entire: "In a recent sermon the Rev. Minot J. Savage declared that the Jesus preached to-day is not historic, but ideal. ‘That,’ said he, ‘is the Christ of Whittier as well; it is the Christ that Philip Brooks always preached.’ Just before his death I asked one of the best known of our Unitarian clergymen what he meant by Christ, whom he was always preaching. He said by Christ he meant the divine ideal of humanity. I received the same answer from Dr. Heber Newton. I was reporting these, cases to an Episcopal minister here, and he said of course they meant the ideal and not the historic Jesus. I asked then, ‘Why don’t you say so?’"—New York Tribune, April 19, 1898.

We fear that Christ, and Him crucified, is not the great theme of many that make high pretensions They are more anxious to please itching ears by flights of eloquence and great swelling words of vanity than by plain language to convert sinners, and build them up in holiness and comfort through faith into salvation.

To recount all the disorders which prove that the so-called churches will not bear the Measuring Reed, and that they are treading the outer court, would require much time. The press, both secular and religious, contains abundant evidence of how little regard there is paid either to doctrine or order. The preaching of the gospel is fast giving way to "Sunday Schools," "Christian Endeavor" societies, and many other inventions wholly unknown to the Scriptures.

Do those who bring their inventions into the New Testament worship think that God is any less jealous of His honor now than He was under the Old Testament? Have they no fear that God will say unto them, "Who hath required this at your hand? In vain do they worship Me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Mark 7:7.

We cannot forbear again to call attention to the way Presbyterian communities deal with their licentiates and ministers who have not charges. Church courts should allow no one under their jurisdiction, who has a license to preach, to be unemployed. They should assign them work. They should not suffer congregations to remain without pastors, and should excommunicate a congregation that is willing to remain without a minister. A secular paper denounces the shameful competition there is among ministers to obtain wealthy congregations.

There seems to be a competition among churches which shall send out the most ministers. It was said by an able preacher, "That one thoroughly equipped minister is worth many that are not so." It would be vastly better, if instead of investing great sums of money in grand buildings for colleges and seminaries to gratify the pride of teachers, the church would endeavor to obtain pious young men to study for the ministry, and see that they are thoroughly qualified.

The late disturbances among Presbyterians and so-called Reformed Presbyterians, manifest that richly endowed schools cannot train ministers that will be faithful to their own communities. It is strange that a body professing to be a Church of Christ, should allow a seminary to teach her candidates for the ministry, when she has not so much control over it as to dismiss a professor who is sapping the very foundations of religion.

Through secular trustees, ecclesiastical courts have been creating a power within themselves, that is undermining their own authority. The whole care and management of everything pertaining to the church belongs to her divinely instituted courts, and when she entrusts these to unauthorized agencies, she sins against her King and Lord. Instead of doing all things according to the pattern shown in the mount; the nominal church has been modeling her government after the form of the civil government. The folly of this is aggravated from the well known fact that the modeling the government of the church in this way made way for the man of sin.

The nations of the earth are still in rebellion against Him whom the Father hath appointed to be KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. This opposition to the Lord’s Anointed is without a shadow of excuse. No truth is more clearly taught in the Scriptures than that God, the Father, has given Jesus Christ a dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. Dan. 7:13-14. Does all this accumulation of terms mean nothing? The great majority of professing Christians and of ministers, so-called, seem to think so.

If this passage does not teach that Jesus Christ is invested with the fullest authority over the nations, and that they are bound to serve and obey Him as their King and absolute Lord, language cannot teach that doctrine. Many other passages teach with equal clearness the same doctrine. Ps. 110:5, 2:5, Rev. 1:5, 17:14, 19:16.

We are told in Phil 2:6-11 that this dominion over all the works of God was given to Him as a reward for His humiliation, sufferings and death. Ministers of the gospel, especially, profess to love and serve Him as their Lord and Master; yet the vast majority of so-called preachers not only do not insist on His being proclaimed King of Nations, but even deny practically that He has any authority over them.

The National reform movement fails far short of the teaching of the Scriptures on the claims of Messiah. None of those who are so eloquent on this subject would dare faithfully to expound Isa. 60:12 before the heterogeneous elements of a National Reform meeting. The nation that will not establish, protect and serve Christ’s Church, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall he destroyed. Giving equal protection to idolaters, the Mother of Harlots, and her harlot daughters, is not serving the church, and will not preserve any nation from the threatened destruction.

The practical atheism of the present time is one of its most alarming features. The judgments of God have been falling out in different parts of the land, by fire and water, by the cyclone and other instrumentalities; yet these things are looked on as chances that happened their victims, or, at most, as the result of the operation of second causes. Our Saviour has told us that "not a sparrow falls to the ground without our Heavenly Father." Matt. 10:29. And in Amos 3:6 the Spirit of God asks, "Can there be evil in the city and the Lord hath not done it?" See also Isa. 45:7.

This is to rebel against the light of nature itself, for the heathens attributed the good or evil that befell them to the favor or wrath of their deities. The latter they endeavored to appease in a manner suitable to their conceptions of the character of their gods.

CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.

Our lives have been spared another year. Though the year has been one of unusual mortality, yet we who are wont to meet in this place are still in the land of the living.

God has crowned the year most liberally with his goodness. The earth has yielded an abundant supply of food for man and beast.

God is manifesting by his judgments that he has not forsaken the earth, that he is calling on men to repent, waiting to be gracious.

We rejoice that there is still so much spiritual life in the Presbyterian Church as to rebuke propagators of soul ruining errors, by suspending the leader of a party which is endeavoring to undermine men’s faith in God’s word, and teaching doctrines which are wholly inconsistent with the necessity of the atonement.

The discussion about closing the World’s Fair on the Sabbath has brought the duty of sanctifying that day to a wonderful prominence before the eyes of the whole world. Although the Divine authority of that day and its true sanctification has not been boldly declared, we hope many will be led to search the Scriptures to learn what are the duties of that day, and that they will be led to see that it is not to be spent in worldly pleasures, but that the whole day is to be spent in the public and private exercises of God’s worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

The nations and the voluntary associations of the day, embracing many professing Christians, are so engaged in contentions about their own interests that Christ’s witnesses escape persecution. This is the Lord’s doing, for which we should give Him the glory due to His name.

We have great reason for thankfulness that we have again been permitted to sit down at the Lord’s Table, and for the favorable weather we enjoyed during the occasion.