MINUTES OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY.
MIAMI MEETING HOUSE, Apr. 25, 1864.
PRESBYTERY met one month earlier than the appointed time to facilitate Mr. Steele’ mission to the British Isles, in which change all the sessions concurred. Members present, Bros. DAVID STEELE, JAS. J. PEOPLES and JAS. F. FULTON; Messrs. THOS. FULTON and WILLIAM SHAW, Elders.
The Moderator and Clerk were continued. The minutes of the former meeting were read and approved. The days of Fasting and Thanksgiving had been observed by all the congregations under the inspection of Presbytery. Mr. Steele reported the non-fulfillment of his appointment, owing to the want of funds. Messrs. J. Torrence, R. Mitchel, and, J. Aiken, Eiders, being present, were invited to seats as consultative members. Messrs. Steele and Shaw were appointed a committee on the Signs of the Times. Adjourned to meet at this place to-morrow at 2 o’clock P.M. Closed with prayer.
April 26, 2 o’clock P.M.—Presbytery met according to adjournment, and was constituted with prayer. Members all present. The committee on the Signs of the Times reported. The report was accepted, and considered by paragraphs for adoption. While the 4th paragraph of the causes of Thanksgiving was considering, it was postponed in order to procure a document. The case of J. W. Torrence, referred from the Miami session, was taken up and terminated by tendering him an admonition. The aforementioned document being procured and read, the 4th paragraph was amended and adopted. The whole was adopted and is as follows:
Your committee on the Signs of the Times would respectfully report:—
CAUSES OF FASTING.
That in the present aspects of divine providence there is much that would admonish the disciples of Christ to walk warily, pondering the paths of their feet; and would call for humiliation before the Lord:—
1. The practice of mixed marriages. The "sons of God," as of old, disregarding the provisions of his law and covenant, still venture to enter into alliances with the "daughters of men;" and the consequences are disastrous to the church and the world, throughout many generations. These consequences may be traced in family dissensions, the corrupting the better party, and the apostacy of their seed.
2. Through the power of innate corruption and outward temptation, the youth of christian parents are drawn into the fellowship of profane companies; and induced to join in promiscuous dancing and other demoralizing pastimes; and these carousals are often protracted to unseasonable hours in the night, so that youth are absent at the time of the evening sacrifice in the family.
3. Times of civil revolution and popular excitement are usually trying the faith and patience of God’s people; and it is matter of humiliation that even among ourselves, some have been unduly moved by the existing commotions of the land.
4. This nation, as yet, manifests little disposition to acknowledge the authority of Israel’s God, or to recognize the judgments inflicted and impending as coming from the Mediator. Whilst many are constrained, after the manner of Jonah’s fellow mariners, "every man to call upon his God;" yet we may adopt the complaint of the prophet—"The nation turneth not to him that smiteth them, neither do they seek the Lord of Hosts"—the God of the Bible.
5. The great and long continued crimes of the nation—infidelity and Slavery, are to be laid to the charge of the professing christian church in this land. While some ministers and others of different denominations, are stirred up by the spirit of God, to meet in convention for the purpose of proposing and urging important amendments to the national Constitution; and while others propose and urge a total change in the fundamental and essential provisions of organic law; it is to be lamented that many distinguished men, even professing gospel ministers, and also ecclesiastical judicatories, perseveringly resist both these methods of national reformation.
6. Notwithstanding the judgments hitherto executed upon the land, and the instruction thereby tendered to this nation; those in the high places of civil and military power, continue to conduct the present war upon the principles and for the objects avowed at the beginning, namely, "to enforce" an immoral "Constitution and execute the laws."
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
1. The fruits of the earth, though greatly curtailed during the past year, have sufficed to sustain man and beast.
2. God has favored the population of this whole land with comparative health. We have not, as yet, been visited with the sore judgment of pestilence.
3. He has raised up some in different corners of the land to plead for some of the great principles for which his witnesses have been contending. Besides the efforts of individuals, conventional action has been taken to bring under the notice of the community at large, and also those in places of power, the rights and claims of God and man.
4. We take occasion once more to express our thankfulness to the covenant God of our fathers, now that authentic documents are before us, for having brought brethren in the British Isles and ourselves into organic fellowship.
We do heartily and joyfully recognize as brethren in covenant bonds with us, all who in London or Scotland, adhere to the whole of our covenanted reformation, and stand separate from all other ecclesiastic fellowships.
5. We are cheered by the contendings and protestations of a minority in the Synods, both of Scotland and America, who evince a just sense of the injuries and wrongs done to Christ and his purchased inheritance, by prevailing majorities.
The third Thursday of November, 1864, was appointed a day of Thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of February, 1865, a day of Fasting.
The court adjourned with prayer to meet, at the call of the Moderator, in the bounds of Brushcreek cong.
JAS. J. PEOPLES, Mod.
JAS. F. FULTON, Cl’k.
The following report was adopted at the regular meeting of Presbytery in May, 1863, and is inserted here that it may be laid before the public, and especially those who are under the inspection of Presbytery.
Your committee on the State of the Country, would respectfully report:
That in view of the great moral principles which characterize the divine government, justice and judgment being the habitation of God’s throne; mercy and truth going before his face; also in view of the fact, that notwithstanding the resources of the North are much greater than those of the South, the parties in the sanguinary conflict have been kept for more than two years nearly in equilibrio, there must be some cause for such a state of things. We cannot say, with the Philistines, "It was a chance that happened us." The axiom is as true in morals as in physics—an effect cannot exist without an adequate cause. While the parties are contending with each other, we believe that God is contending with both. We "come behind no church" in active sympathy with the North, and in detestation of the immediate and avowed cause of rebellion by the South. The unrighteous and cruel oppression of a large fractional part of the population of the United States, recognized and guaranteed in the organic law, and carried in the three departments of the national government, we, as a church have declared to be unjust, and testified against as calculated to provoke the Lord to send desolating judgments on the land. This we have affirmed constantly and publicly, ever since the foundation of the government.
We are not insensible to the effects produced by the judgments of God upon the land. Some who had not thought of nations as subjects of moral government, accountable to the Most High, who would have ridiculed the idea of a national conscience, have been constrained to declare their conviction and belief that the "heavens do rule," that "the finger of God" is discernable in this war. Still, it is to be lamented, that those in high places seem so reluctant to give glory to the God of heaven. The late call of the chief magistrate to national humiliation gave no intimation of the existence or office of the one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. This omission is the more remarkable, as the Senate of the United States had expressly declared, in recommending a national fast, that Jesus is the only way to the Father? While refusing to have this man to reign over them, to acknowledge the paramount authority of his law, revealed in the Holy Scriptures, or to remove the accursed thing, slavery, there is little encouragement to hope for a termination of divine judgments.
While we are ready to lend our whole moral influence to the cause of civil and religious liberty, and sustain the North in all lawful measures to reach this desirable result, we cannot pray for success in "inforcing the constitution and executing the laws," while these would require us to withstand the Anointed of the Lord, the Prince of the kings of the earth; and renders us accessory to the riveting the chains of bondage on our fellow men.
In consideration of the abounding snares of the present, the associations of good and bad men, with the bond of an oath, or without an oath, we would caution all under our presbyterial inspection, to walk warily, pondering the path of their feet, and would warn them of danger, in this time of excitement, lest they enter into civil, military, or other associations with ungodly men, and thus fall from their own steadfastness.