REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
HOUSE OF JAMES ANDERSON, NORTH UNION,
BUTLER COUNTY, Pa., June 15, 1890.
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 Love, of Saxonburg; George Alexander, of Allegheny City; and Robert Alexander, of Philadelphia; James F. Fulton, minister, was also present. Robert Alexander was chosen Chairman and David A. Renfrew, Clerk.
The days of Fasting and Thanksgiving had been observed. No papers were presented. The report of Messrs. George Alexander and Henry M. Hartzell on Miss Jane Young’s donation was accepted and approved.
The Committee appointed at our last meeting to attend to anything that might arise previous to this meeting, affecting the general interests of the church, reported that nothing had transpired calling for action on their part. The report was approved.
The Meeting then proceeded to consider, and adopt the following causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving:
CAUSES OF FASTING.
Atheism, theoretical and practical, infidelity, scepticism and socialism are increasing in the land, and threatening to overwhelm it, with confusion and anarchy.
The laboring classes, suffering from the avarice of their employers, and stimulated by a desire to emulate the grandeur and luxury of the rich, have entered into combinations to extort higher wages from their employers by strikes, and compel not only their own members, but others, not connected with them, to cease from work, though their families may be dependent on their daily labor for support. This is an act of tyranny seldom, if ever, exercised by the greatest despots.
The devil is the Grand Master Workman in all such associations. Whatever may be the designs of those who contrive, or of those who enter into them, his design is to destroy the Church. Being no longer able to stir up the civil powers to persecute the people of God, as formerly, he beats up for voluntary associations, either for moral reform, or to promote the secular interests of men, that the seed of the woman may be entangled in them, or be driven from the means of obtaining a livelihood.
Actuated by draconic subtlety, apostate ministers of the Presbyterian Church assail the doctrines of the Westminster Confession of Faith, not so much by attempting to prove that they are unscriptural, as by boasting of the superior advantages of modern divines, and how much more they know than the great men did, who composed the famous Westminster Assembly,—men who were raised up by the Mediator, and furnished with gifts, natural and acquired, to give to the world a summary of the attainments of the witnesses to that time,—of the truths that had been sealed by the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.
The assertion that men know more of divine things because of greater literary, scientific, or any human knowledge, is neither scriptural nor according to fact. Earthly wisdom is natural sensual and devilish. Jas. 3:15.
The natural man cannot understand the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Cor. 2:14.
The cultivation of the natural mind only increases its enmity against the soul-humbling doctrines of the gospel. The most cultured intellects of this age, like the same class among the Jews and Greeks, in the time of our Savior and his apostles, are not among those to whom God, in his sovereign wisdom, has revealed the mysteries of the gospel. Mat. 11:25; 13:11.
Caiaphas, no doubt, had more literary and scientific knowledge than Abraham, “more improved methods of studying the plan of salvation,” having Moses and the prophets, while Abraham had only the first promise, and the promise that in him and his seed, all the families of the earth should be blessed; yet he saw his Savior nineteen centuries before he appeared on earth; but Caiaphas could not discern him when, clothed in humanity, he stood before him.
Although the judgments of God have visited the land by storms, by flood, by fire and epidemic, yet very few have noticed the hand of him who ruleth the nations, some uttering dreadful blasphemies, when reminded that these things are the doings of him who worketh all things according to the counsel of his own will.
Gross ignorance of the nature of the terms of communion in the visible church lies at the foundation of a great part of the disorder that prevails within her pale. Few distinguish between the faith to be exercised on the subordinate standards of the church and that to be exercised on the Supreme Standard, the Bible. The former, being the work of man, can only be the object of human faith. Neither civil nor ecclesiastical society can exist without this faith. No child can keep the fifth commandment unless it believes human testimony, and the church cannot go forth by the footsteps of the flock, nor be a witnessing body, unless she acts upon the credibility of this kind of testimony. The Bible becomes the only term of communion, and no one can become a member of the church until he knows he possesses divine faith, and church courts must be able to search the hearts,—a prerogative claimed by the omniscient Jehovah. Jer. 17:9,10.
Few, if any, of the ministers of the present time can or do explain the preface to the ten commandments, or show why the tables of stone, upon which they were engraved, are called the testimony. Such neglect or ignorance of what lies at the foundation of the Christian’s faith, must exert a baleful influence over his profession and practice. It renders him unable to distinguish between God’s law and his testimony, and to understand in what the testimony of the witnesses consists.
We believe that many of the errors that prevail at the present time are the offspring of Modern Criticism. Many of those who, during the past century, were eminent in this department, were Neologists,—men who denied the Lord that bought them, and who taught that the “Moral contents of the Bible are a revelation from God in the same sense that improvement in the art and sciences are from God,” and many similar tenets, equally destructive of the faith of God’s people.
We regard the substitution of “unfermented wine” or any other substance, instead of pure wine, in the Lord’s Supper, to be of the same nature with the act of the Council of Constance, in 1414, in denying the cup to the laity. This was done, it was alleged, to remove temptation from the people. We consider this a highhanded act of rebellion against the Head of the Church, an impeachment of his wisdom, and as tending to infidelity, by leading men to believe that the language of the Scriptures is so ambiguous, that we cannot attain to any certainty as to its meaning.
The principle that actuates the advocates of “unfermented wine” in the Lord’s Supper, is the same principle of legalism that prompts the slaves of the man of sin in endeavoring to work out their own righteousness by penances, pilgrimages, etc.
We desire to confess our own sins: original and actual; our lukewarmness; our formality in duty; and our unconcern for the glory of God, and the advancement of his kingdom in the world. We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. Ps. 106:6.
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
Though the judgments, of God have visited different parts of the land in which we dwell, present indications are, that there will be an abundant supply of food for man and beast. We have not been visited with a famine of the bread and water of life. Amos 8:11.
Men are raised up by the Mediator to oppose the various errors of the present time. There are still some who defend the integrity of the Confession of Faith, and who, we trust, will, if that grand attainment of the Second Reformation is mutilated, pitch the tabernacle without the camp. Ex. 33:7.
We rejoice that the entire sufficiency of the Book of Psalms, as a manual of praise in the church, is still maintained, and that some are beginning to entertain more Scriptural ideas of the nature of temperance than heretofore.
We desire to express our thanks to God, that we have, on this occasion, enjoyed communion with him in word and sacrament.
It was agreed to recommend to brethren the renewed consideration of the Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving heretofore adopted by this Meeting, as they are as applicable now as when first published.
The last Thursday of November, 1890, was appointed as a day of Thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of February, 1891, as a day of Fasting.
James Anderson, David A. Renfrew and James F. Fulton were appointed a committee to prepare Causes of Fasting and Thanksgiving for our next meeting, and to attend to anything affecting the general interests of the church, that may occur between this and that time.
Adjourned with prayer, to meet at North Union, the third Monday of June, 1891.