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Database

1895.

James Dodson

MINUTES

OF THE

GENERAL MEETING

OF THE

Reformed Presbyterian Church.

HOUSE OF MISS LIZZIE ANDERSON,

NORTH UNION, BUTLER Co., PA., June 10, 1895.

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

The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. George Love was continued Chairman, and Henry M. Hartzell was chosen Permanent Clerk.

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

The committee on the Signs of the Times reported that they had made no progress.

The Causes of Fasting, adopted by the Reformed Presbytery in 1842, being read, the meeting decided that they are exactly suited, to the present time, and directed that they be published as Causes of Fasting for the present year.

The committee on the Signs of the Times was ordered to complete the Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving.

Miss Perry’s gift and the interest that has accrued on Miss Young’s donation since her death was put into Mr. Renfrew’s hands, and he was directed to pay for the printing of the minutes, and to give the remainder to James F. Fulton. The last Thursday of November, 1895, was appointed as a day of thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of February, 1896, as a day of fasting.

James F. Fulton, George Alexander and D.A. Renfrew were appointed a committee on the Signs of the Times to report at our next meeting.

Adjourned to meet in this place the second Monday of June, 1896.

The following are the Causing of Fasting adopted by the Reformed Presbytery in 1842: Man is a being of various powers of recognition and of action, dependent on, and accountable to, Him, who gave him being, and in whose hand is his destiny. From the consideration of the constitution, which he possesses, corrupted by sin, the circumstances, in which, in providence, he is placed; the subtlety and power of the adversary; the jealousy of God, as it respects his own character, institutions and laws; and from the object of his creation, preservation and ultimate designs, he is urged to walk warily and act circumspectly, with a view to the account, which he must render, to the judge of quick and dead.

While attending to the duties of his individual standing, he must not overlook those which claim his attention, in the different relations, which he sustains. He is an individual,—but he is formed for society; and as such is he recognized by the law of God. He should therefore see, that all the principles of action, which he possesses, be regulated in their exercise, by the law of God and directed by the same standard to their proper end. Society gives vigor, expansion and durability to the social principles, and in their properly regulated exercise, there is a sure reward.

In the church of Christ only, is it, that provision is made for the rational creature to possess all those rights, which are the gift of God; exercise all those powers, bestowed by his maker and to be regulated by His law; and enjoy that degree of happiness, which the possession of those rights and the exercise of those powers, in the discharge of duty, is calculated and designed to furnish. The reason is obvious,—the organic relation of the church to God, sanctifies and sweetens the inferior relations of the members to each other, such as their civil and domestic relations. And in proportion to the imperfection of these inferior organizations, will be a curtailment of rights and the exercise of the active powers; and consequently, of personal and social enjoyment. From the corruption of human nature, unbridled passions, unsubdued desires, the ways of the enemy, and the divine permission; seldom has it happened, that the members of the church have been in capacity to exercise all their rights in obedience to divine authority and in accordance with his law, so as to secure the correspondent enjoyment. But God is holy, he will not dwell with the workers of iniquity. He is also a jealous God—he will have vengeance, even on the vices of His own people, yea, to the third and fourth generations of them that hate Him. Hence the care exercised by our fathers in the days of former years, when calamity, distress or disappointment overtook them, to seek God by FASTING and HUMILIATION, to know the grounds of His controversy with them. And how jealous were they of themselves, and minute in searching into their own conduct, in view of covenanting?—Times of covenanting, whether in view of renewing of the ORGANIC BOND or of the sacramental solemnity, call for the use of means in order to special nearness unto God, and much intimacy with our own hearts and our former ways. The fasts to afflict and humble the soul before God, in view of renewing the organic bond, and those for humiliation, occasionally ordained by the organized body, proceed on the same principle, and agree, inasmuch as they look back to past time, to present circumstances and the future. They may differ as to the extent of observation, in relation to the time present, as it respects society at large.

In view of organic renovation, a faithful and searching inquiry should be instituted, as it respects the organization, relative to maintaining the purity of doctrine and worship; and a righteous and impartial administration of all the laws and ordinances, which pertain to the body, so far as providence furnishes all opportunity for their observance. The language of the oath is: "All that the Lord our God has commanded us, we will do, and be obedient." This declaration covers the whole extent of obligation, directs to the duties, and circumscribes the boundaries of inquiry on the occasion.

It is not, however, to be viewed as a mean for the removing only, but also for the averting of judgments—obtaining special direction—a right way,—and protection from Him who has instituted the ORDINANCE, enjoined the observance, and PRESCRIBED THE MANNER, in which it is to be regarded, doing all things which he has commanded,—INSINCERITY

AND TRUTH.

The days in which we live are eventful and portentous. Society in organization is unhinged, paralyzed and impotent—and fails in all and each of the objects of moral corporate bodies. Society, thus convulsed and embarrassed, becomes restive, impotent, and seeks relief. The adversary influencing the mass of the people, and these, impelled by innate corruption and directed by draconic subtlety, set at naught divine institutions, and resort to human inventions, combinations and expedients,—desperate measures are adopted to remove or avert the judgments of God—and unreasonable instrumentality is selected to obtain his good will. The moral world, thus subverted, suffering and perplexed, in its ecclesiastical, political, international, commercial and financial concerns, argues that God is displeased; and urges upon individuals, corporate bodies and fellowships, to inquire diligently, and to ascertain the grounds of so great a controversy, which God has with them. Submitting under the mighty hand of God, and regarding the loud calls of His holy providence; they should come unto God with fasting and supplication—confess and forsake their sins, in order to obtain mercy—have their sins blotted out from before Him, and enjoy the sweets of his life-giving countenance, in individual and social life.

From the great, the extensive and the various derangement and suffering; in which society is involved, sins fundamental and extensively prevailing, should be searched after, both as to their existence and operation. The committee are deeply sensible that the following are prominent among the sins of our time.

FIRST—GENERAL DOCTRINES.

Infidelity, abounds without and within the acknowledged precincts of objective revelation. This is unreasonable in itself, and the fruits must be bitterness. The Church is the light of the world, and those placed upon her walls, are the sworn expounders of her doctrines, and appliers of her laws.—They are solemnly bound to measure the temple, altar, and them that worship therein. And to open the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

Gross ignorance, various and conflicting views obtain, respecting God, the object of all religious regard; and of man, as a reasonable, religious and accountable creature—as to his state, constitution, character, duties and destiny. And these not in the heathen only, but also, in the Christian world—the holy city. Rev. 11:2.

Consequent ignorance and obstinate inattention, lamentably prevail, as to the necessary existence of, and the necessary relations which obtain in the Godhead.—Also, as to the economical standing of the ever blessed Three, and their voluntary relations to each other, in reference to the divine arrangements, and the carrying of the same into effect—MY COUNSEL SHALL STAND.—As it respects the economical province of each, in creation, providence and redemption.—The personal qualifications of the second person, in order to office, and to affect his part of the economical arrangements.—Yea, even of the official character, of Christ as it regards creation, providence and redemption; and as to his official standing as it relates to divine institutions.—Also, in relation to the appropriate work of the Holy Ghost, according to the divine economy.

The ignorance, insensibility, obstinate and conflicting views, which obtain, respecting man, as a worshipper of God and a subject of his moral government, accountable for the. deeds done in the body, for the improving of time and privileges—and destined to live forever; to be either a resident in the upper and better country, or an inhabitant of the place, where God has forgotten to be gracious—a companion of devils and the damned. Yet, from the blindness of his mind, the deceitfulness of his heart, his circumstances of life, views and estimates of God, he impiously, presumes upon general mercy, and desperately ventures on mere peradventure, in reference to his own eternal and irreversible state. From this ignorance, and these views and estimates, aided by a heathen philosophy, arises the painful spectacle of numerous sects and associations professing the Christian religion and wearing the Christian name.

SECOND—GENERAL PRACTICE.

Disregard to, and denial of divine institutions and requisitions. Hence the existing different and multifarious forms of government, both civil and ecclesiastic—the modern practice of excluding civil government from the official regard of the LORD JESUS CHRIST, and regulating ecclesiastical by circumstances, and the family left destitute of its altar,—hence the church heathenized.

Incompetency of officers, in Church and State, for the duties of their stations; from deficiency in natural capacity, acquisitions and the fear of God.

Insensibility of the people, who call to the exercise of rule over them, in Church and State, of the trust committed to them, to be exercised on such occasions,—giving their suffrage to unqualified candidates.

The church is primarily chargeable with this ignorance, insensibility and disregard of the people toward divine requisitions. She is the depositum of truth. Her officers are bound by the most solemn obligations, to make it known and see that it be applied. The priest’s lips should keep knowledge, &c., so that the people may not prostitute their suffrage, in bestowing it upon an unworthy object; or on one, whose office would oblige to counteract some one or more of the provisions of fundamental and supreme law, revealed in the Bible.

R. LUSK, Chairman.

The following causes were added by the Committee:

We still have reason to lament the increase of Atheism, theoretical and practical. Although God still continues to inflict his judgments on every part of this and other lands by drought, by floods, by cyclones, by the extremes of heat and cold, by war, and, in this land especially, by unprecedented financial distress, which is generally attributed to the lack of wisdom in those who are in power, which of itself is one of God’s greatest judgments on a people; yet neither the pulpit nor the press has pointed out the hand of God in these things. The assertion that any dreadful casualty is the judgment of God often occasions angry and blasphemous expressions. "They that deny the providence of God do in effect deny the being of God; for they strip Him of that wisdom, goodness, tenderness, mercy, justice and righteousness which are the glory of the Deity."—CHARNOCK.

Such a denial is contrary both to the light of nature and divine revelation.

Another proof of the increase of Atheistical sentiments is the assertion, "That the world is attaining to better conceptions of the divine nature than it formerly possessed." How clearly does this coincide with the thoughts of the ungodly as interpreted by Him who knows what is in man, Ps, 50:21, "These things thou hast done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest I was altogether such a one as thyself; but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes." When men entertain such conceptions concerning God, after repeated warnings and rebukes, what can we expect but His most terrible judgments? Prov. 29:1, "He that being often reproved, hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy."

The church is controlled by voluntary, irresponsible associations, which are invented without her pale, and find admission into her, not by the door, but by climbing over the wall. John 10:1, "He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber." These inventions being without divine institution are regulated by no law, and are so many antichrists. 2 Thess. 2:8, "Then shall be revealed that lawless one."—MacKnight’s Translation. There can be no limit to the number of these inventions. They may be increased to the number of thirty thousand, like the gods of the Greeks, or to the millions of the Hindoos.

Infidelity, under different guises, is assailing the Holy Scriptures.

An influential paper said a few years ago: "Every bad man wishes the Bible untrue." How true is this witness! Bad men in every age have assailed the Holy writings with all the sophistries serpentine ingenuity could devise. Able and godly men have, in the judgment of those fully competent to decide, clearly answered all these sophistries; yet one generation of vipers after another has arisen, which endeavors to hiss the Scriptures out of the world.

But the most dangerous infidels are those who, claiming to be Christians, profess to believe that the Bible is from God, yet deny that it is wholly from Him. Some of these tell us that "The thoughts were given to the holy men of God, but not the words." This they do, that when their carnal minds will not receive the truth, they may say the inspired writers failed in expressing the divine thought.

It is as clear as noon-day that the words and not the thoughts were given. 1 Pet. 1:11, "Searching what, or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified before hand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow." The denial of the verbal and the plenary inspiration of God’s Word, together with what is called Higher Criticism, are manifestations of the enmity of carnal men to God and the things of God.

Legislative bodies and ecclesiastical assemblies have become gymnasiums to train their members to every kind of treachery. Their very organization is a contest carried on with all the skill the satanic wit of men can devise The secular press contains accounts of the parties in such bodies and their relative strength, and prognosticates the success of one of the parties in securing a presiding officer, who will use his power to secure the ascendancy of his own party.

The pastoral relation is treated with utter contempt, whenever it interferes with the caprice of either pastor or people. When a pastor, at the close of a communion Sabbath, announces to his congregation, "That the next Sabbath is the last day that they will enjoy his ministrations," he not only manifests disregard for his ordination vows, but also treats with utter contempt the presbytery to which he has promised subjection in the Lord. The church, so called, that tolerates such disorder is treading the outer court. See the book of Government and Discipline of the R.P.C. in N.A., page 110, X:9,10 and XI:l,2. Also, Query 9, page 111.

A fearful flood of dishonesty is inundating the land. Wherever investigating committees have examined the accounts of State or municipal governments, they have discovered a mass of corruption, that astonishes even this venal age.

It is well known that men are employed and furnished with money by corporations to bribe legislators to secure legislation favorable to the interests of these corporations; and that by this money elections are controlled, and the right of suffrage rendered a mere farce.

The pardoning power is frequently employed by those to whom it is entrusted, not for the benefit of those who have been unjustly or too severely punished, but to let loose some of the vilest criminals.

The number of those, who live by theft, burglary, robbery, false pretenses, and by every means of dishonest gain, is evidently increasing. Intemperance, notwithstanding the efforts of self-styled temperance agencies, is increasing, clearly demonstrating that their methods of warring against this debasing and soul-ruining sin, will never reach the root of this evil.

Uncleanness, in all its degrading and loathsome forms, is prevalent in all corners of the land. The abounding of this sin, is a sure precursor of desolating judgments.

Ministers of the Gospel do not "declare the whole counsel of God," and do not regard the solemn charge given. Ezek. 3:17-18. "Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word of my mouth, and give them warning from me. When I say unto the wicked, ‘Thou shalt surely die’; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand."

It is to be feared that much of the preaching of the present time, deserves the censure bestowed on that of a so-called great preacher: "It was simply a ‘free show’ maintained at the expense of the * * *. Its frothy, superheated, emotional characteristics attracted only strangers, and the more lightheaded members of the community."

The condition of the church is deplorable. A religious paper testifies of its own community, "That if its own discipline was enforced, one half of its membership would be cut, off, that its official members may be found in box, dress circle, and parquet of opera, and theatre. That its communicants attend the races, give and attend card parties and dances"!!! W.C.A., Cin., July 19, 1893.

A Baptist minister testifies, "That Sabbath desecration is almost as common in the church as out of it, * * * that the great body of her membership joins the world in Sunday pleasuring"!!! How applicable is the language of the Bible. Jer. 5:30,31. "A wonderful, a horrible thing is committed in the land; the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?"

CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.

Our unprofitable and forfeited lives are still spared under circumstances of much mercy;—and, although the land has been visited by frosts unprecedented in extent and severity, threatening to cut short the crops to such an extent as to cause want to man and beast; present indications are that the earth will yield a sufficiency of food.

We desire to give thanks that we are not utterly deprived of a preached Gospel, that we have again been permitted to renew our vows at the Lord’s table, for the favorable weather and for all the goodness of our gracious Lord, during that, occasion,—and also that we were permitted to meet and consult together, and arrive at conclusions in desirable harmony. That the strikes, that have caused so much misery to those engaged in them, and disturbance to the country, are greatly abated. And that the Government seems to have been awakened to a sense of its duty to protect all classes of men in life and property. Though we are sure, that this is only a temporary lull in the storm of divine wrath, that is ready to burst on men for their sins, it is matter of thankfulness. Dan. 4:27. "If it may be a lengthening of thy tranquillity."

That though .to the eye of sense, everything indicates the overthrow of all morality and religion, the eye of faith sees, in the commotions of the present time, the shaking of all things, that those which cannot be shaken, may remain.

OBITUARIES.

Miss Jane Young died at her home in Middletown, Butler county, Pa., October 21, 1894. She was over 70 years old. She was led away from the Reformed Presbytery by the misrepresentations of Messrs. Clyde and Campbell. The somersault of the former individual convinced her of the falseness of their pretenses, and she returned to her brethren, and communed with them a year ago.

We preached in her house two weeks before her death. Quite a number of the brethren, being present, they all observed how happy she seemed to be. Her call was somewhat sudden; but from what we know of her life and conversation, we are persuaded, it did not find her unprepared.

Miss Jane Perry died at Dumfries, Scotland, aged 77, she had been all adherent of the Reformed Presbytery about 30 years. She manifested her interest in the cause of truth, which she believed was maintained by that Presbytery, by contributing to its support. On her death-bed, she sent a gift to the General Meeting "that may yield fruit that will abound to her account."

The General Meeting sends their grateful thanks to her sister for her kindness.

REV. C. CLYDE.

Rev. C. Clyde. having "kythed in his own colors," should publish a new edition of his [article on] Traveling and Casuistry, enlarged, corrected, and improved. His last somersault eminently qualifies him for such a work. The man, who after retracting two or more falsehoods, can say, that his other statements are not weakened thereby, but rather confirmed, is certainly a casuist of the first water. The falsehood immediately added about the offer of a year’s salary, &c., is, no doubt, intended to rivet the whole tissue of falsehoods. No such offer was ever made. No wonder, that a man, acquainted with all the transactions of the congregation, should say: "There must be something wrong with the man’s head." He did not say whether he thought he was captus mente, or captus animi.

The assertion that my congregation was very often disappointed, by my not fulfilling my appointments, is not true. Perhaps this is one of his retracted falsehoods.

That the Presbytery was packed in 1868, is an impudent falsehood. An elder, who had been appointed its delegate by the Miami session, asked to be excused. The court refused to excuse him. I was never absent from the meeting of Presbytery from 1859 until 1872. That year, I came to Pittsburgh to receive Mr. McAuley. If I missed a single meeting between those dates, I cannot recall it.

Commencing my absences from 1857, when I was a student, and linking that with those that did not commence until after 1872, is a contemptible trick.

I was engaged in teaching to support my motherless children, and I had to remain at my post.

When James Campbell attempted to read his scurrilous paper, removing Mr. Steele from the Mod’s Chair, he had the decency, at least to pretend that he was so affected, he could not proceed. But C. Clyde stepped up with alacrity, and read the paper through without a tremor, or the least manifestation of shame.

The subject of this shameful and cruel treatment, was an aged and venerable servant of Jesus Christ, borne down with the weight of fourscore years, and worn out by fifty years service in the ministry;—his gray hairs and enfeebled body, evidencing that he was near his journey’s end.—A man to whom, under God, C. Clyde owed all that he was, or ever will be.

A good man now in his grave, expressed his conviction, that evil is before the Rev. C. Clyde for his treatment of Mr. Steele.

If it is asked why I notice these things now? My reason is, I am now almost three score and ten, and the conviction has forced itself on my mind, that I should not let these falsehoods and misrepresentations, which are in print, go down to posterity without my public testimony against them.

If I am spared, I intend to write out a more detailed statement of these things, and leave it in the hands of some suitable person to be published or not, as the exigency of the times may require. I have noticed only a few of Mr. Clyde’s misrepresentations, not to call them by a worse name.

His new associates may love the treason, but they must despise the traitor.

THE LATE SYNOD.

The report of a committee on a "Church Paper," is especially worthy of notice. The fact that this report was not adopted, taken in connection with what is said in the report itself, is especially interesting to those who look below the surface. The reason assigned, for having a paper directly under the control of Synod is, that the papers known as "Our Church Papers," though able and honest, are sometimes at loggerheads among themselves; and we read between the lines, that they are not always strictly orthodox, and that they are so far beyond the control of the church; that she does not feel responsible for their utterances. This is certainly a humiliating confession. It is evident that there is schism IN THE BODY. We have been persuaded for sometime that each of these so-called church papers represents a faction. This explains their inability to exercise discipline on editors who teach doctrines contrary to their profession.

That community has been treading the outer court for years. Their disregard for the law and order of the house is proof of this.

They have opened their Theological Seminary to young women desiring to do evangelistic work. The Christian Nation says, June 19, ‘95, "No one may read into these resolutions, more than the church intends to express, namely, that young women may ‘study theology and receive special training for mission and evangelistic work’; but this language does not obligate the church to establish an order of evangelists; it does not even imply that the church contemplates such action! Compare this utterance with that in the issue of June 26. Speaking of American women preaching in noted London pulpits:—"And it will make Americans proud to have them plead the cause of righteousness, truth, and purity before the great London audiences. The command is, ‘Go and preach.’ Does this command mean ,only for men to preach? The ages will tell the story." Yes, Mr. Christian Nation, if the example, and the plain commands of our Lord and his apostles can mean anything. The wresting, especially of what Paul says about women teaching or preaching is calculated to make infidels by the wholesale. Whenever it becomes general to thrust women into the pulpits, I will listen to hear the awful voice of the third angel. Rev. 14:9. Let those who do not wish to be excommunicated by him, keep away from the tents of such perverters of Scripture.