MINUTES OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY.
THE Reformed Presbytery met, pursuant to adjournment, at the call of the Moderator, at Brush Creek, Adams County, Ohio, June 12, 1865. Members present: Rev. J.J. Peoples, Moderator; D. Steele and J.F. Fulton, Ministers; with Ruling Elders, Dr. M.H. Lynn, of Hill Prairie congregation, Joseph Aiken, of Miami, and James Williams of Brush Creek.
The present Moderator and Clerk were continued.
Messrs. Samuel Cowser, William McKinley, and Thomas H. Hemphill, Ruling Elders, being present, were invited to seats as consultative members. They took seats accordingly.
The Minutes of last Meeting were read and approved.
Days of fasting and thanksgiving had been observed by all the congregations under the Presbytery’s inspection.
Mr. Steele reported the fulfilment of his mission to the British Isles, submitting to the court two papers,—one from brethren in London, the other from Newton-Stewart, Scotland, expressing gratitude at his arrival among them, and the pleasure they had enjoyed in social and Christian intercourse with him; whereupon it was
‘Resolved—That this Court regard their grateful sense of the kind reception and generous hospitality tendered by their beloved covenant brethren to their commissioner, and cordially reciprocate their expressions of affection and confidence.’
Papers were received and numbered as follows:—No. 1, a petition from Philadelphia, asking a supply of preaching. No. 2, a petition from Hill Prairie, asking for the installation of Mr. Steele. No. 3, a paper, signed James Akin, asking advice in matters pertaining to Miami congregation. No. 4, a reference from Miami Session.
Paper No. 4 was referred to a Special Committee, consisting of the Moderator and Mr. Steele. Nos. 1 and 2, to a Committee consisting of J.F. Fulton, James Williams, and Thomas H. Hemphill.
Adjourned with prayer, to meet in this place at 9 o’clock tomorrow morning.
SAME PLACE, 9 o’clock, A.M.
Court met and constituted with prayer.
All the members were present except Mr. Williams, who soon appeared.
The Committee on Papers 1 and 2 reported. The Report was accepted, considered by paragraphs, amended and adopted. It is as follows:—
"Your Committee on Papers No. 1 and 3, would respectfully report that the prayer of the people in Philadelphia be granted and the time and amount of supplies be such as may be mutually agreed upon by them and the Ministers of this Presbytery.
"In relation to the Petition of Mr. James Akin, we recommend that the Miami Session be directed that there be at least an Annual Meeting of the congregation to settle with their pastor, and that the Session take order with delinquents. Moreover, that the Miami congregation be enjoined to adhere to the long established custom of this Church in offering public praise to God, and in everything pertaining to the order of His house."
Paper No. 2 was taken up, and Mr. Steele having signified an unwillingness to be installed in view of the infirmities of age, it was laid on the table. Presbytery had a recess for half an hour.
Time of recess having expired, Court came to order.
The Committee on Paper No. 4, were not prepared to report. The Court proceeded to consider and adopt the following Preamble and Resolutions:—
"WHEREAS, it appears that the members of this Court have contributed money to clear townships and precincts of draft; and whereas, the payment of such money is in the judgment of this Court inconsistent with our Testimony; and the members paying such money having expressed their sorrow for so doing—therefore
"Resolved—That the case be dismissed with the counsel that they be still more careful in future to act consistently with the Testimony of the Church."
The case of Members of Brush Creek Session was dismissed with like Counsel.
On Paper No. 4, Presbytery took the following action:—
"WHEREAS, The Scriptures do clearly distinguish between paying tribute for conscience and for wrath’s sake; and whereas, our Testimony has always preserved this important distinction; and whereas, during the late national conflict, many severe trials and temptations have befallen the witnesses of Christ in this land; and whereas, it behoves the members of this Court actively to sympathize with their fellow-members, considering themselves, lest they also be tempted.
"Resolved, therefore, That we still firmly adhere to the doctrine of our Testimony on this head.
"2nd. That the Miami Session be directed to counsel and admonish those members whose case was referred; and in case any member or elder refuses submission to the foregoing declared sentiments of this Court, the Miami Session is hereby directed to proceed to his suspension from privilege."
Mr. Williams obtained leave of absence from the remaining sessions of the present meeting, and the Session of Brush Creek being present, appointed Mr. J.H. Hemphill his substitute.
The following paper on the Signs of the Times was adopted:—
CAUSES OF FASTING.
It is a declaration of a prophet of the Lord,—"When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness." The nation in which we dwell, and by consequence the churches in the land, have been subjected to protracted and desolating judgments; yet there are few signs of repentance and reformation in either. To all persons of spiritual discernment the churches generally appear to be increasing in carnality and worldly conformity;—in attachment to their own inventions, for the purpose of increasing their numbers, rather than maintaining the purity of doctrine and morals.
Splendid edifices, costly furniture, instrumental and artistic music, too often constitute the glory of modern Zion. In most denominations the hedge of discipline has been broken down, so that the Church can hardly be distinguished from the world, or the sanctuary from the theatre.
The nation manifests no disposition as yet to acknowledge the sovereign claims of the Lord and His Anointed, as evinced by the late action of the National Congress. This is further evident from the habitual disregard of the Christian Sabbath by the Government, both in the civil and military departments.
It is to be lamented that efforts for union among the churches are still urged at the sacrifice of truth.
Innovations upon the comely order of the Lord’s house are often introduced, contrary to the Scriptures and Presbyterial order; and even among the best reformed churches there is a disposition to depart not only from the footsteps of the flock, but from their own acknowledged standards.
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
Notwithstanding the scarcity of labour, and the great consumption of the products of the earth in time of war, there has been a competency for the support of man and beast.
The Lord has in great measure exempted us from the calamities and ravages of war during the national contest.
Notwithstanding the desire and efforts of the two contending parties to preserve the impious and diabolical institution and crime of slavery in this land, the Most High has brought it seemingly near to utter destruction.
It is a matter of devout thankfulness that actual fellowship in word and sacrament has been established between us and precious covenanted brethren, in both kingdoms of Great Britain. This auspicious event, together with a disposition manifested by some others in this land to inquire for the old paths, is calculated to encourage our hearts and to strengthen our hands in the work of the Lord.
The rapidity with which great events have recently transpired, exciting the astonishment of men; the wonderful advancement of arts, science, literature, and commerce, would seem to give evidence that the Mediator is on His way to destroy the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations.
The last Thursday of November, 1865, was appointed a day Thanksgiving. and the third Thursday of February, 1866, a day of Fasting.
The time and place of the next meeting were left to the appointment of the Moderator. Closed with prayer.
James J. Peoples, Moderator.
James F. Fulton, P. C1erk.