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1842.—April.

James Dodson

PROCEEDINGS OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY.

Brush Creek Meeting House, April 11th, 1842.

The Reformed Presbytery met according to adjournment and was constituted by prayer. Members present—Rev. Robert Lusk, Moderator, Rev. David Steele, Messrs. Nathan Johnson, William M’Kinly, and Matthew Mitchell, Ruling Elders.

 

On motion, Rev. R. Lusk was continued Moderator and Matthew Mitchell Clerk. Moved that the Court now adjourn to meet at this place at 4 o’clock, P.M. Adjourned with prayer.

Same place, 4 o’clock, P.M.

Presbytery met and was constituted by prayer. Members all present. Papers being called for, a petition was presented from William Thompson and others, Mercer county, Pennsylvania, and is as follows:

Mercer, February 9th 1842.

To the Rev. Moderator and other members of the Reformed Presbytery, to meet at Brush Creek, Adams county, Ohio, on the second Monday of April, 1842.

We, the undersigned, make known, that we have been members of the Reformed Presbyterian Covenanted Church in this county; but finding a majority of her ministers and members so far run into defection, that they are not only ‘saying a confederacy’ with the open enemies of truth and godliness; but that they themselves have been guilty of removing the ancient landmarks set up by our reforming ancestors in the British Isles:—such as laying aside the Rules of Society;the Act, Declaration and Testimony, emitted by the Reformed Presbytery in Scotland:—changing the terms of ecclesiastical communion.—And, as if all this had not been enough for them to do, in overturning the reformation, and breaking down the carved work of the sanctuary: at the last meeting of Synod, they appointed a committee to so modify the Covenants and alter them, that they may be adapted to the present circumstances of the church and of the world.

Therefore, having met and in a social capacity asked divine direction; we do acknowledge you as a court of Christ’s house, are willing to submit to you in the Lord, and would humbly present to your the following petition—And

1st. We would ask you to send us a minister of the sanctuary, to organize us into a church capacity.

2d. As we have but one elder to bear rule among us, we would also ask you to authorize said minister to ordain another elder.

3d. We would ask for three Sabbaths’ preaching; and if agreeable to good order, we would desire the sacrament of the Lord's supper administered amongst us, during that time.—On your granting the above requests, your humble petitioners shall ever pray, that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in your hands.

The following committee was appointed to report on this Petition, namely: Rev. R. Lusk, Nathan Johnston and M. Mitchell.

On motion, a committee of three was appointed to report on the terms of Ecclesiastical communion adopted by the Reformed Presbytery in the United States in 1807. The Moderator appointed Rev. David Steele, Nathan Johnston and Wm. McKinly said committee.

On motion, the Court adjourned to meet at this place to-morrow at 2 o’clock, P.M. Adjourned by prayer.

Tuesday, 2 o’clock, P.M.

Presbytery met according to adjournment, and was constituted by prayer, members all present. The committee on the petition of Wm. Thompson and others reported. The report was on motion accepted, and after being examined, article by article and amended, was adopted, and is as follows:

The committee to whom was referred the petition of Wm. Thompson and others, report that they are gratified to learn that those petitioners in their sphere oppose the innovations and defections making on the doctrines and order of the Church. The petition contains nothing but what frequently occurs in such instruments. Your committee would therefore recommend the adoption of the following resolution.

That a minister and ruling elder be appointed to repair to these people, so soon as circumstances will admit: ascertain their standing, and dispense the ordinances which pertain to the house of God, as the condition, circumstances and necessities of the people may require,—all which is respectfully submitted.

R. LUSK, Chr’m.

The Rev. David Steele and Nathan Johnston were appointed to carry out the object of the above resolution.

The committee on the terms of Communion reported in part, and at the request of the chairman, were granted further time to complete the report.

Matthew Mitchell asked and obtained leave of absence from the remaining sessions of this Court.

On motion, the Moderator and Nathan Johnston were appointed to prepare causes of fasting, and present them at the next meeting. The Court now adjourns to meet at the house of Rev. D. Steele tomorrow at 10 o’clock, A.M. Adjourned by prayer.

Presbytery again met at the time and place appointed, and was constituted by prayer, Members present, Lusk, Steele and Johnston. Absent, McKinly. The minutes of last sitting were read and approved.

The committee on the terms of Communion, reported in full. The report was accepted, and

On motion considered article by article for adoption. McKinly appeared. After much deliberation and some amendment, the report was adopted, and is as follows;

Your committee to whom were referred the ‘Terms of ecclesiastical communion,’ adopted by the Reformed Presbytery in 1807, respectfully report.—

On examining and comparing the different forms in which the terms of communion have been from time to time exhibited: we see that the first and fourth have been subjected to amputation, in some of their essential members, as adopted in America: and we are of opinion that the supplement to the sixth has become injurious by frequent misapplication.

We also conceive that the terms, as adopted by the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland—however faithful, and adapted to the time; do not meet the exigencies of the Reformed Church in our day and land.

From these considerations, we would recommend the following summary or terms, to be laid before our people for their consideration and remarks, with a view to adoption at the next meeting of this Presbytery.

TERMS 
of ecclesiastical Communion in the 
REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.

I. An acknowledgment of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God; and the alone infallible rule of faith and practice.

II. An acknowledgment that the whole doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Catechisms, larger and shorter, are agreeable unto, and founded upon the Scriptures.

III. An acknowledgment that presbyterial Church Government is of divine right and unalterable; and that the most perfect model as yet attained, is exhibited in the Form of Government and Directory for Worship, as adopted by the Church of Scotland, in the Second Reformation.

IV. An acknowledgment that public, social covenanting is an ordinance of God, and obligatory upon churches and nations, under the New Testament dispensation—and that the National Covenant of Scotland, and the Solemn League and Covenant of Scotland, England and Ireland, were an exemplification of this divine institution; and that these solemn deeds are of perpetual obligation upon the moral person,—as continued by representation and accession:—And in consistency with this, acknowledging the Renovation of these Covenants, at Auchensaugh, 1712, to be agreeable to the word of God.

V. An approbation of the faithful contendings of the martyrs of Jesus against Paganism, Popery, Prelacy, Malignancy and Sectarianism; and against immoral constitutions of civil government,—Erastian tolerations and persecutions which flow therefrom; as containing a noble example for their posterity to follow, in contending for all divine truth and in testifying against all corruptions embodied in the constitutions of either church or state.

VI. An approbation of the judicial Testimonies,[1] emitted by the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North Britain and America; in behalf of all the attainments of the Reformation.

VII. Practically adorning the doctrine of God, our Saviour: by walking in all his commandments and ordinances blamelessly.

Respectfully submitted,

D. STEELE, Chr’m.

The committee appointed to draft causes of fasting reported. On motion the document was considered article by article, and after being amended, was adopted. The report is as follows.—

The committee appointed to report causes of fasting, respectfully submit the following.—

CAUSES OF FASTING, &c.

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 vigour, 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 of 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 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, in as much as they look back to past time, to present circumstance, 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 an 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 protectionfrom 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,—in sincerity 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 in 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 DOCTRINE.

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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 effect his part of the economical arrangements—Yea, even of the official character of Christ, as it regards, creation, providence and redemption; and as to the official standing as it relates to divine institutions.—Also, in relation to the appropriate work of the Holy Ghost, according to the divine economy.

4. 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—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.

1. 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.

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

3. 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.

4. The church is primarily chargeable with this ignorance, insensibility and disregard of tho 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, Chr’m.

The first Thursday of July next was appointed as a day of fasting and humiliation, by all under the inspection of this Presbytery.

After reading the minutes, which were approved; the Presbytery adjourned to meet at Massies Creek on the first Wednesday of next October, 11 o’clock, A.M.

R. LUSK, Mod.

 

D. STEELE, Cl’k. pro. tem. 


Footnote:
[1] What is called the ‘new Scottish Testimony,’ [adopted in 1837] is not here contemplated.