Minutes of the General Meeting,
Reformed Presbyterian Church.
HOUSE OF JAMES ANDERSON, NORTH UNION,
BUTLER COUNTY, PA., JUNE 15, 1891.
The General Meeting of the Reformed Presbyterian Church met according to adjournment, and was opened with prayer. Members present: James Anderson, D.A. Renfrew and George Love, of North Union; George Alexander, of Allegheny, Pa., and Robert Alexander, of Philadelphia, Pa.
The days of Fasting and Thanksgiving had been observed. No papers were presented.
The report of Messrs. 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 progress. The report was considered by paragraphs, amended, completed, and adopted. It is as follows:
CAUSES OF FASTING.
The times in which we live are ominous. Society, Christian and Pagan, civilized and uncivilized, is shaking to its centre. God is shaking the heavens and the earth, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Men, wilfully ignorant that sin is the procuring cause of all the miseries that befall them in individual and social life, to free themselves from their financial troubles, resort to associations which are as selfish and tyrannical as are the individuals and corporations whose oppression and extortion they are endeavoring to resist.
That the interests of the laboring, agricultural, manufacturing and commercial classes are identical, may be regarded as almost self evident. It is not possible that any of these industries can flourish whilst the others are decaying. This blindness of mind is itself a great judgment, and is a sure presage that other judgments will follow. The princes of Zoan are become fools, the princes of Noph are deceived; they have also deceived Egypt, even they that are the stay of the tribes thereof. The LORD hath mingled a perverse spirit in the midst thereof: and they have caused Egypt to err in every work thereof, as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit. Isa. 19:13-14. See 29:14.
The nations, by their practice, continue to say, "We will not have this man to reign over us." Although there is no truth more clearly revealed in the Bible than Christ’s dominion over the nations and their duty to take his law as their infallible rule in establishing governments among them; yet those who claim to be his ambassadors do not, according to His express command, teach the nations their duty to Him as KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. They bend their tongue like the bow for lies and are not valiant for the truth in the earth. Jer. 9:3. It is to be lamented that persons who say that Jesus Christ is the supreme object of their affections, are wholly unconcerned about that glory which was given him as the especial reward of his sufferings. "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.—Phil. 2:6-11. Loyal subjects will lay down their lives for their prince, and will not the servants of the Prince Messiah risk life and all things for Him who laid down His life for them, and from whom they receive all they possess? If they have no concern for His glory, how can they say they love Him?
Practical atheism is evidently increasing, and is corrupting society to its core. God has twice visited the land by commercial distress, by fire and water, by riots and bloodshed, and twice by a plague that has, in its last visitation, filled the land with distress and mourning to a far greater extent than in its first; yet neither the pulpit nor the press has pointed out the hand of God in these things. Even the heathen attributed those calamities that befell them to the anger of their gods, and endeavored to propitiate them by such sacrifices and ceremonies as they were taught to think acceptable to their deities.
The worship of God is still more and more corrupted by the inventions of men. Professed Christians greatly err in this, being wilfully ignorant "that all worship is obedience, obedience respects authority; and authority exerts itself in commands; and, if the authority be not the authority of God, but of him or them whose commands and authority are the reason and cause of it. It is the authority of God alone that can make any worship to be religious or the performance of it to be an act of obedience to him.
From this it follows that all worship not commanded by God is the worship of the devil. The apostle Paul calls all idolatrous feasts the table of the devils, the cup of devils, sacrifice to devils; devils being the real object of Pagan worship, not formally intended by the worshiper." John Owen.
The command of God is, "Whatsoever I command you, that observe and do: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." Deut. 12:32. Our Savior commanded His apostles, the represented of a gospel ministry, to "go. . . and teach all nations. . . . Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Matt, 28: 19-20. In opposition to these plain commands, those who profess obedience to Christ, are adding one invention to another in order to accomplish the work for which He founded the church. Young Men’s Christian Associations, etc., all speak injuriously of the Church: that she is defective in her organization, and needs to be supplemented by the wisdom of man. Every part of the Scriptures manifests the jealousy of God for His own ordinances.
The children of Israel supposed that they had learned something from the Philistines that would free the Levites from the burden of carrying the Ark of God upon their shoulders, viz., a new cart drawn by oxen. But God made a breach upon them. "For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that ye sought Him not after the due order." Chron. 15:13.
Many suppose that God does not punish violations of His law so severely under the New Testament as He did under the Old. The reverse of this is true. Paul teaches us that if every disobedience and transgression under the law spoken of by angels received a just recompense of reward much more will they who rebel against the word spoken by the Lord himself meet with condign punishment.—Heb. 2:24.
Ministers who claim to be Covenanters have shown their Romeward tendencies, not only by preaching funeral sermons, but by preaching Easter sermons. "Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice; lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.—2 Sam. 1:20. It is no wonder that the Reformed Presbyterian Church is undergoing disintegration.
God’s name is still profaned by all classes in society, and by every age and sex. He has said that he will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain, and has threatened degrading and exterminating judgments on those who will not do all the works of his law, and learn to fear this glorious and fearful name, the Lord thy God.—Deut. 28:58, and context.
It might be worth while for those who are so strenuously opposing the debasing and soul-ruining sin of intemperance to inquire whether God is not avenging the dishonor to his name by profane swearing by giving men up to drunkenness and other degrading and polluting sins. Because the heathen dishonored God by changing his truth into a lie He gave them up to dishonor themselves.—Rom. 1:24,26,28.
A more irreverent manner of administering judicial oaths than that commonly employed can scarcely be imagined. Neither .the administrator nor the person who swears seems to have the least apprehension of the greatness and majesty of Him to whom they appeal, and who has said, "I will be a swift witness against false swearers," and who has said, "I will be sanctified in all them that come nigh me."
Opposition to the rest of the Sabbath is still manifested by its increasing desecration, and by insidious attacks on its divine institution. We are told that it is not a particular seventh day we are to observe, but only a seventh part of our time. This assertion manifests the subtlety of the old serpent, who well understands that if this opinion was generally acted upon it would produce such disorders as would destroy the Sabbath. As well not appoint a Sabbath as not appoint the time. Men will not listen to such nonsense in their secular affairs.
Again, some assail the Sabbath by saying all the inhabitants of the earth do not keep precisely the same time. Would any man in Oregon object to celebrating the Fourth of July because that day commences some hours earlier in Maine than it does in Oregon?
Many assail the Sabbath by saying that the strictness of its observance required by the Old Testament is abrogated under the New. All this opposition to the Sabbath arises from the enmity of the carnal mind to God and whatever bears his image. Those who truly love Him desire to be much engaged in communion with Him, and as He has set apart the Sabbath for this purpose they delight to meet with Him on this day, in all the ordinances of His appointment. They delight in it as an earnest of that rest that remaineth for the people of God.
All who are concerned for the glory of God, or the welfare of their fellow-men, will be deeply interested in the sanctification of this day. The Church flourishes or decays in proportion to the regard paid to it. So will morality and the welfare of the state. An eminent English judge said that among the criminals sentenced to death by him he found few that did not confess that they commenced their career of crime on the Sabbath. A learned American judge says no Sabbath breaker is habitually a prosperous man. As it is an established fact that ninety-five per cent. of those who engage in commercial business fail, who but the sovereign disposer of all events knows how many of these failures are the result of Sabbath violation?
Nowhere are the evils that flow from disregarding God’s law more manifest than in those that spring from the violation of the Fifth commandment. The family is the nursery of the Church. And did not He make one? Yet had He the residue of the Spirit? And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed.—Mal. 2:15. Those who have not been trained to order and obedience in the family will never, unless the Mediator disciplines them by severe and sanctified afflictions, make comfortable members of the Church or useful citizens of the state. We are persuaded that a large part of the disorder and tyranny that are destroying the Church comes from ministers who have not borne the yoke in their youth. It is a maxim that he who has not learned to obey is not fit to govern. He, to whom it has never been said, "Why hast thou done so?" will not be disposed to submit to the reproofs of his brethren, though he has solemnly vowed to do so.
Mixed marriages are a fruitful source of disorder, both in the family and in the Church. It is impossible for husband and wife to work together in training their family like a "company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots" when they hold different views about divine things, and especially when they differ about the present truth. A difference of opinion between parents, even about the management of their temporal affairs, often subverts all order in the family; much more will it do so when the dispute is about eternal things. Those who think they can ignore their own convictions, or their early religious training, will find themselves wofully mistaken.
God has set the seal of His displeasure on mixed marriages, both in His word and in His providence; yet professed Covenanters are as wilful in taking wives of all whom they choose as were the "sons of God" before the flood.
We consider the practice of depreciating the ability, learning and labors of the reformers and of the able and godly expounders of the Scriptures of former times to be one of the worst forms of denying that honor that belongs to every one in his place and station. By destroying the reputation of these men, who, being dead, yet speak, their calumniators in a manner kill them. It is worth their while to consider whether the Mediator will not reckon them among the murderers of his servants.
Murder, in all its cruel and horrid forms, is still committed in all parts of the land, and does not meet with that prompt punishment that is necessary to deter men from committing it. Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore, the hearts of the sons of men are fully set in them to do evil—Eccl. 8:11. There are so many hindrances to speedy trial; so many subterfuges; so many ways, even after conviction, to escape punishment through the technicalities of the law, the murderer commits the crime feeling assured that in some one of these ways he will escape punishment.
Changing the penalty from death to imprisonment for life is high handed wickedness. God declares that blood defiles the land, and that it can only be cleansed by the blood of him that shed it. The guilt of innocent blood, therefore, remains on the land, though the murderer be imprisoned for life. The fearful consequences of substituting man’s for God’s law is seen in the socialism, incendiarism, assassinations, lynchings, etc.—blood touching blood throughout the land.
The unhappy freedmen are murdered for attempting to exercise the right of suffrage granted to them by the nation in its fundamental law; yet it refuses to confer on its executive power to protect them. Thus the guilt becomes national. If thou forbear to deliver them that are driven unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; if thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it, and he that keepeth thy soul, doth he not know it? and shall he not render to every one according to his works?
Uncleanness, in all its vile and degrading forms, is still increasing. This is in part owing to the circulation of obscene literature through the mails. It is true that individuals and the postoffice department are endeavoring to prevent this: but, we fear, a great part of it escapes detection and is spread broadcast over the land.
It is to be lamented that parents exercise little or no control over what their children read. This they should do, and, like the Jews before the Passover, search, their houses with lighted candles for this filthy leaven and promptly consign to the flames all papers, pamphlets and books calculated to pollute the mind.
There is no surer harbinger of desolating judgments on a land than its being given up to this sin, especially when accompanied with boldness and want of shame, as is the case with many at the present time, who glory in their shame. "Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush; therefore they shall fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord."—Jer. 6:15.
Stealing, robbery and burglary are matters of daily occurrence. Some recent instances of defalcation by men who stood high in the confidence of their fellow men, are unsurpassed by any that preceded them. The daily press furnishes evidence that a flood of dishonesty is sweeping over the land.
Lying, in all its varied forms, keeps pace with other sins. No other sin renders a man more like the god of this world, who was a liar and murderer from the beginning. The wilful and malicious liar, whatever his pretenses may be, manifests that he is a child of the devil.
Not only is falsehood in words practiced, but there are many who, after having entered into writing, will repudiate their contract, when through the technicalities of the law, they can do so, even resorting to perjury to accomplish their object.
Perjury is practiced in civil courts to an alarming extent, judges complaining of the extreme difficulty, in many cases, of forming their verdict on the testimony.
Politicians seem to think that slanders of every kind and degree are a legitimate means of success, and so invent and circulate falsehoods on their political opponents with unblushing effrontery.
That covetousness is a crying sin of the times is evident from the fact that men are no longer satisfied with a competence, but desire to count their wealth by millions. To this thirst for wealth is due that flood of dishonesty that is sweeping over the land. The confidence of man in his fellow man is almost entirely destroyed. Every employee of a mercantile firm or of a public thoroughfare who handles its money is compelled, while engaged in his duties, to carry the evidence with him that his employers do not trust him. These things testify that "there is no truth nor knowledge of God in the land."
We desire to confess our own sins, our luke-warmness, in duty, our breach of covenant engagements, our want of zeal for the promotion of His glory and the advancement of His kingdom in the world.
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
Although, during the past year, some of the fruits of the earth were cut short, there has been an abundant supply of food for man and beast.
Our people have been providentially preserved from any personal injury from the bloody riots that have been in different parts of the land, and also from any fatal attacks of the pestilence that has walked at noonday.
God is shaking the civil and ecclesiastical heavens that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Evidences are multiplying that He is coming out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and that earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
We desire to return thanks to our covenant God that the ordinances are still dispensed among us; for the favorable weather we enjoyed during our communion season; and for the peace among ourselves, graciously granted to us.
James Anderson and D.A. Renfrew, elders, and James F. Fulton, minister, were appointed a Committee on the Signs of the Times and to attend to anything affecting the general interests of the Church, until the next general meeting.
The last Thursday of November, 1891, was appointed as a day of Thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of February, 1892, as a day of Fasting.
Adjourned by prayer to meet at the house of James Anderson, North Union, Butler County, Pa., on the second Monday of June, 1892.