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Database

1889.

James Dodson

MINUTES
OF THE
GENERAL MEETING
OF THE
REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
 

HOUSE OF JAMES ANDERSON, NORTH UNION,

BUTLER COUNTY, PA., June 11, 1889.

The General Meeting of the Reformed Presbyterian Church met according to adjournment, and was opened with prayer. Members present: James Anderson and David A. Renfrew of North Union; George Alexander of Allegheny, Pa; and William Edgar of Kossuth, Iowa.

The days of Fasting and Thanksgiving had been observed by all our people. No papers were presented.

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

The Committee appointed to complete the Causes of Thanksgiving, and to attend to anything affecting the general interests of the church until the next meeting, reported that they had completed said Causes, and that nothing had transpired demanding their attention. The report was accepted and ,approved.

The Meeting proceeded to consider Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving. While these were considering, Mr. Robert Alexander appeared. Recess was taken to allow him to take some refreshments. The meeting having come to order, resumed the consideration of said Causes. These, having been considered by paragraphs, were adopted, and are as follows:

CAUSES OF FASTING.

Atheism still prevails among all classes of society. Men, not liking to retain God in their knowledge, vainly endeavor by sophistry to persuade themselves and others, that there is no righteous judge and observer of the actions of men, "who will render to every one according to his deeds." Agnosticism, which asserts that God’s existence and man’s relation to him are subjects too high for the human understanding, and professes, as the word implies, to know nothing about these things, is, we believe, at the present time, the most dangerous form of speculative atheism. Its advocates claim great scientific knowledge. Thus, as of old, "professing themselves to be wise, they become fools."

Another prevalent form of atheism consists in the denial of some of the attributes of the Divine nature. No being can exist without all its essential attributes. Whoever, therefore, denies the wisdom or righteousness of God, denies his existence. Every community of professing Christians which incorporates into its standards principles, that involve a denial of any of these attributes, is so far atheistic.

That atheism, which consists of the denial of the providence of God, is increasing to an alarming extent. When a secular editor will venture to assert, in a city which boasts of its Christianity, "That the time has gone by, when the destruction of life and property caused by a recent storm, would be ascribed to the hand of God," it clearly shows his conviction that his readers are too deeply infected with atheism to resent it by withdrawing their subscriptions. Many seem to consider the awful and unprecedented calamity that has befallen one of the most wealthy and important towns of this state, as a mere chance that has happened to it. They do not inquire, Why hath the Lord done this great thing? though he has said, "Shall there be evil in a city and the Lord hath not done it?" Amos 3:6. More terrible judgments will follow if this and those which, heretofore, have fallen out, at different times and in different places, do not produce repentance.

The headship of Jesus Christ over the church is practically denied by the inventions of men which are brought into his house. The great doctrine of the Protestant Church is, that there should be an express appointment for every part of that worship in which we engage. "In vain they do worship me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Mat. 15:9. "What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt lint add thereto, nor diminish from it." Deut. 12:32.

The unscriptural practice of persons of all religions and no religion, associating to accomplish moral reform still continues, notwithstanding the manifold evidences of its evil tendency given in the providence of God. "Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong: but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!" Isa. 31:1.

The so-called National Reform Movement is a deception and a snare. It is inconsistent for those who maintain that Presbyterian Church government is of divine right and unalterable, to unite with those who deny that doctrine, to put down rebellion in the state. Rebellion against the authority of the Mediator over the church, we believe to be a more aggravated sin than rebellion against that authority over civil society. Surely, it is unreasonable to unite with one class of rebels, to put down the rebellion of another.

This movement keeps out of view, the grand and vital doctrines of Christ’s headship over the nations. It does not maintain the duty of the nation to establish the true church, to serve, and support her under the penalty of utter destruction. "For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted." Isa. 60:12. And that "all such as publish and maintain such doctrines and practices as are contrary to the light of nature or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation, or to the power of godliness, may be called to account and proceeded against by the censures of the church and the power of the civil magistrate."

It is to be lamented that learned ministers who have shown the entire sufficiency of the Book of Psalms, as a manual of praise, imitate those heathen philosophers, who privately condemned the idolatry of the multitude, yet wholly conformed to it in public, and taught that it was a duty so to do. Nevertheless, among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue. "For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God." Jno. 12:43. All such should ponder the words of their master: "How can ye believe which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only?" Jno. 5:44.

The Protestant Church is fast returning to the heathen ceremonies of the Church of Rome, vieing with her in the observance of "Easter Sunday," etc. By means of Christmas trees, Santa Claus is becoming a greater reality and the object of more affection to children than the Savior himself.

Many professing Christians are lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. The nominal church has entered into competition with the theatre in providing amusement for her godless youth, to prevent them from frequenting those dens of iniquity which our fathers regarded as the very gates of perdition.

The multiplication of holidays is a growing evil. This has ever been an evidence of increasing corruption in society. The idleness and dissipation, with which they are always connected, are powerful promoters of vice and crime.

Promiscuous dancing is no longer regarded as the amusement of the openly ungodly, but is indulged in by the children of Christian parents to the wasting of precious time, the loss of necessary sleep, to the injury of health, and, what is worse, to the neglect of their duties as members of the family, and to the temptations incident to association with the ungodly.

It has been said that we cannot prove that this amusement is forbidden ill the Scriptures. The new nature does not need an express command forbidding this or any other diversion which is either sinful in itself, or from its surroundings. Like every other living creature, it seeks its own preservation and cries out against everything that threatens its life. The child of God will avoid whatever makes him feel indisposed for duty and alienates his mind from God.

We believe the church is in more danger from this amusement than from intemperance. By it her youth are led into the society of drunkards, fornicators, etc., and frequently into all the sins of which these transgressors are guilty. We believe that there is no amusement, which were it universally to prevail, would more effectually root out of the heart all fear of God and every noble principle, than dancing.

It cannot but grieve all those who are concerned that Jesus Christ shall be acknowledged as Prince of the kings of the earth, that Covenanters suffer themselves to be deceived by those who attempt to make a distinction between voting for amendments to state or national constitutions, and voting for officers to carry out those deeds. The same "cunning craftiness" made, during the late war, a distinction between the military oath and the oath of allegiance. Those, who reason in this way, forget that every department of the state derives all its powers from the constitution and was created by it to carry out its own provisions. If the act of the Legislature, submitting the Prohibitory Amendment to the people, is unconstitutional, it is null.

Some of their brethren cannot vote, because they are not naturalized. But those who vote are supposed to possess the very qualifications conferred by the oath of allegiance, therefore, to vote, while denying any of the obligations imposed by that oath, is, to say the least, Jesuitical.

Such conduct may be expected from those who have, for half a century, violated that great and fundamental law of Christ’s house concerning overtures which our fathers learned in the fiery furnace of persecution. Witness the changing of the delegated form of the Synod in 1840, the introduction of continuous singing, the repeal of the law concerning the proclamation of the Marriage Banns; their permitting women to usurp authority over men as deaconesses; and, at this very time, a Presbytery has usurped the authority of the whole body in permitting those under its inspection to vote for a constitutional amendment. That church which does not observe its own established order becomes a Babel—a treader of the outer court. "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 foot forty and two months." Rev. 11:2. We reiterate our conviction, that "treading the outer court" consists in trampling under foot the law and order of the church.

The frequent changes of ministers among those calling themselves Presbyterians, is among the evil signs of the times. A minister’s usefulness in a congregation ought to increase with the time of his sojourn in it. He should know more of their spiritual wants, and be better qualified, both in his public and private ministrations to apply himself to these wants. These changes are not only injurious to his own spiritual and temporal welfare, but are frequently cruel. Love of home is natural to all, and it cannot but be an affliction to be compelled to leave it, to gratify the malice or caprice of others.

Church courts, instead of sustaining faithful ministers, give them no appointments. This is to act the part of those that forsook Paul. "At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge." 2 Tim. 4:16.

Though ministers are not to be forced upon people, yet those, who can give no other reason for the rejection of a minister sent as a supply, or for the dissolution of the pastoral relation than ministerial faithfulness, ought to be proceeded against by the censures of the Church.

The Synod of the so-called Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, has, by its act permitting deaconesses, violated the law of God, which, both in the Old and New Testaments, clearly teaches the subjection of the woman to the man. Every office supposes power to a greater or less extent. This office, therefore, gives the woman authority over the man to the full extent of its power. The limited extent of the deacon's power does not affect the question. Difference in degree does not change the nature of anything.

The tendency of this act is to render the family a headless monster, and to unfit it for the duties for which it was instituted by God—the training of children, and fitting them for the duties that will devolve upon them as members of the church and the state. There can be no successful teaching without obedience; for those who have not learned to obey are not qualified to perform, even the duties of a private station. It is not possible for children to 1earn this, if the father and mother possess equal authority. "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." Mat. 6:24.

The apostle Paul commands, "That the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their houses well," consequently, by parity of reasoning, the deaconesses should be the wives of one husband, ruling their children and their houses well. Thus, in this case, at least, they make the woman the head of the man, contrary to the express declaration of the Scriptures, that "The husband is the head of the wife." Eph. 5:23.

Profanity has invaded the church itself. Even the children of Presbyterian bodies are guilty of this aggravated sin, and their parents, too often, set them the example. God has said "He will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." How aggravated must be the sin of those parents, who, having dedicated their children to God in baptism, and engaged to bring them up in the fear of God, set them the example of profaning his holy name!

The Sabbath continues to be desecrated by railroad excursions, theatrical exhibitions, and by night meetings, whereby family worship and catechising are neglected, youth kept out at night and led to conduct themselves in a way not only disgraceful to them as children of the church, but as members of respectable society. Members of the church make business contracts on the Sabbath, and this desecration of the Lord’s day extends from one corner of the land to the other. It is no wonder, then, that desolating judgments are sent on the land.

We lament our own sins. Our formality in duty, our sins of omission and commission, our forgetfulness of our solemn vows; for which we desire to be humbled before our God, that He may "return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him." Joel 2:14.

CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.

Though God has, during the past year, visited the land with destruction of life and property, caused by fire, wind, and water, the earth has yielded her increase, so that there has been an abundant supply of food for man and beast.

We have been preserved in safety during the year—none of our people, as far as we know, have been involved in any of the calamities with which God has visited the land. Some of us have enjoyed the privilege of renewing our vows at the Lord’s table. The land has been exempted from war, and the pestilence, though it visited one locality, was not permitted to walk in darkness through the land.

We rejoice that the railroad companies have taken some steps towards stopping trains on the Lord’s day, although it is done through worldly motives, and not from a design to glorify God by obeying his law.

That men are raised up to advocate the perfection of the Book of Psalms, as a manual of praise in the worship of God—that it is fully adapted to express all the exercises of the child of God either in days of prosperity or adversity.

We hope these discussions will lead the people of God to adopt this Book to the exclusion of all others.

We are still preserved as a remnant, and have been permitted to meet again as a General Meeting, and that the ordinances are still dispensed among us.

The last Thursday of Nov. 1889, was appointed as a day of Thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of Feb. 1890, as a day of Fasting.

James F. Fulton, James Anderson, and David A. Renfrew were appointed a committee to attend to anything affecting the interests of the Church, previous to our next meeting.

Meeting adjourned to meet at North Union, Butler Co., Pa., on the third Monday of June, 1890. Closed with prayer.

JAMES ANDERSON, Chairman

JAMES F. FULTON, Clerk.