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Database

1883.

James Dodson

MINUTES OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY.

Twelfth and Filbert Streets, Philadelphia. June 6th, 1883.

10 o’clock A.M.

The Reformed Presbytery met agreeably to adjournment, and was constituted with prayer by the Moderator. Members present: Messrs. J.F. Fulton and D. Steele, ministers; Messrs. James Anderson, George Alexander, James Campbell, Robert Clyde, ruling elders. Robert Alexander, on invitation, took his seat in court as a consultative member. Mr. Fulton was continued interim Moderator, and James Campbell appointed Clerk. Minutes of last meeting were read and approved.

Unfinished business was taken up. The days of thanksgiving and fasting had been observed by all the congregations under care of Presbytery. All ministerial appointments had been fulfilled. The Chairman of Commission reported that nothing had called for action since last meeting of this court. Report accepted and Commission dismissed.

Presbytery took the following action in reference to Mr. M’Auley’s condition:—

Whereas, the Rev. John M’Auley’s seat in this court is vacant for the first time since his accession to our fellowship; and,

Whereas, by a letter recently received from his medical son, we learn that his father’s health has not improved but declined since our last meeting, so as to incapacitate him for any public service;

Therefore, Presbytery takes the present occasion to express its grateful sense of Mr. M’Auley’s past services; his diligence, promptitude and fidelity as a Christian minister while possessed of physical ability; expressing its sympathy with him in his long-continued affliction, and commending him to the gracious care of the only infallible Physician of soul and body.

The Clerk was directed to transmit a copy of the above to Mr. M’Auley.

D. Steele submitted the following:—Charles Clyde, licentiate, having since last meeting visited most of our people and exercised his gifts by preaching to our Societies; and the Moderator having learned that said probationer has been so acceptable to the brethren that they are unanimous that he be set apart to the full work of the ministry; and this information is confirmed by formal petitions on Presbytery’s table [1]: therefore,

Resolved, 1. That he be taken on trial at the present meeting of court for ordination.

2. That although in our scattered condition Mr. Clyde cannot be "designed to any particular charge" for local service and support; the earnest and unanimous desire of our people, as in the case of James Renwick, of Scotland, is fully equivalent to a gospel call—sine titulo.

This paper having been read and approved, the court proceeded to carry out the object contemplated. After a thorough and close examination of candidate which was unanimously sustained; the Moderator having by anticipation assigned Romans 3:24 as a text for a popular discourse, the hour of 10 ½ o’clock A.M. on to-morrow was fixed to hear trial for ordination.

Messrs. Fulton, R. Clyde, and Anderson, were appointed a Committee on the Signs of the Times, to report at a future meeting. The hour of noon having arrived, the court took a recess until 2 o’clock P.M.

After recess the court came to order.

The Treasurer’s report was received and referred to Alexander and Anderson as an auditing committee, who reported—correct. The report was then adopted. Amount on hand, $117.29; $25 of which were appropriated to Mr. Fulton, and the balance equally distributed to Messrs. Steele and C. Clyde for expenses in preaching the gospel in the West.

The congregations of Allegheny, North Union, and Rochester, asked for supplies. Their prayer was granted and the supplies to be furnished at the convenience of the parties respectively.

Whereas, a member in fellowship has offered to the Reformed Presbytery $1000, condition that it pay the donor interest at 6 per cent. per annum during the natural life of the donor, therefore—

Resolved, That Presbytery accept the offer, and appoint Messrs. George Alexander and H.M. Hartzell to transact the business and report to Presbytery from time to time.

Court adjourned with prayer, to meet here to-morrow at 10 o’clock A.M.

Same place, June 7th, 10 o’clock A.M.

Court met and was opened with prayer.

All the members present.

The Committee on the Signs of the Times reported in part. Accepted, and the Committee allowed farther time to complete the report.

The time having arrived for delivering the trial sermon, the candidate proceeded by giving out part of the 32d Psalm from the beginning; and having delivered his discourse, the members made their criticisms, when the sermon was unanimously sustained. D. Steele announced the edict. It was resolved to proceed with the ordination on to-morrow, at 2 o’clock P.M., the day to be observed by fasting and prayer. Adjourned, to meet in this place at 1 o’clock P.M., to-morrow. Closed with prayer.

Same place, June 8, 1 o’clock P.M.

Resumed business. Members all present. Minutes read and approved. Committee on Signs of the Times reported in full. Accepted, and having been considered by paragraphs, was adopted. The report is as follows:

CAUSES OF FASTING.

It still continues, and shall be for a lamentation, that "there is no truth nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land." All the foundations of moral order are out of course. It becomes, therefore, an important question, Who is responsible for this state of things? The family, the church, and the State are the moral agencies appointed by Jehovah to renovate society, to preserve the rights of its members, and to prevent those evils which lead to its destruction. Whatever, therefore, hinders any of these divine ordinances from answering its great end, is greatly to be lamented by all who have the glory of God and the good of their fellow-men at heart.

First, as to the family; while even in secular callings, men consider some previous knowledge of its nature and operations necessary, men and women too often enter the marriage relation without any knowledge of its duties and obligations, and scorn to pay any attention to the great end for which it was ordained by God.

Such as are thus ignorant are ill prepared to rear their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and they allow them to grow up in ignorance of God, their duties to him and to their parents, and of their duties as members of Church and State.

Parents thus ignorant readily entrust the instruction of their children to that great idol of heathenized churches "the Sunday-school." The teachers in this modern invention are many times ignorant and self-conceited young men and women, who, owing to the imitative nature of their pupils, easily imbue their minds with their own pride and contempt of worthies who were the honored instruments of delivering the world from the gross darkness of popish ignorance and superstition. This contempt for our venerable fathers is necessarily transferred to natural parents. Children, not being instructed by their parents soon begin to think themselves superior to them in knowledge, and from that principle in human nature, which will not, unless prompted by a sense of duty, obey those inferior in knowledge, they naturally rebel against parental authority.

Many parents teach their children falsehood and rebellion at the same time. They do, times without number, threaten their little ones with correction, if they do certain acts, which they know will not be inflicted. They cannot, therefore, have any confidence in the veracity of their parents, who are schooling them in that vice which is one of the most striking lineaments in the devil’s image.

The church does not exert her authority and influence in sustaining parental government, thus failing to perform one great part of her functions, "Did he not make one? and wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed." She should refuse her privileges to all persistent rebels against the authority of father and mother, and inflict censure on all within her gates who are guilty of insubordination in the family.

The State is equally derelict in not exercising its power for the good of the subjects, in compelling children to honor and obey their parents.

It is an established maxim, that those who have not learned to obey, are wholly unfit to govern. Church and State, therefore, reap the awful consequences of their neglect of duty. not only in the unruly conduct of members, but also in the want of suitable men for office-bearers.

Tyranny and duplicity are reigning characteristics of numbers who bear rule in the church. This is so manifest that those who are under their inspection say that their spiritual guides have exceeded unprincipled politicians in double dealing and treachery.

The decline of vital piety is demonstrated by the demand that is made for the introduction of those things into the worship of God which gratify the carnal mind. It cannot understand and enjoy what is spiritual, but' craves those things which gratify its natural vanity. Hence, its craving for uninspired hymns which are the expression of the faith, the joys, and sorrows of the natural man. As these are wholly insufficient to satisfy the longings of the immortal soul, instead of returning to God, the only adequate portion of the soul, he endeavors to remove the uneasiness by the charms of vocal and instrumental music.

The contempt and scorn manifested by modern innovators for those who exhibit any zeal for the purity of Divine ordinances, clearly show their own character and the wickedness of their inventions. Those who exclaim against these things are acknowledged to be the most pious members of the communities to which they belong. Their convictions should receive the most tender treatment from their guides, and their scruples, if wrong, should be removed by Scriptural argument.

The doctrine of Papists and Prelatists, that we may do whatever is not expressly forbidden by the law of God, has been revived by many who claim to be the followers of those who laid down their lives as a testimony against this very doctrine. This is clearly adding to the perfect law. "Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." Prov. 30:6.

The condition of society at large is alarming. Atheism, infidelity, superstition, profanity, Sabbath desecration, disobedience, suicide, murder, uncleanness, covetousness, perjury, form the great part of the daily news.

Although the Mediator is warning men by conflagrations, destructive inundations, and by letting loose the terrible power of the wind, yet men consider these things as the result of merely natural causes, and ask their fellows to investigate the natural agencies employed, as it the wind, etc., were not under the control of the Almighty, and there could be evil in the city and the Lord hath not done it.

CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.

Though we all have sinned, and too long have been the workers of iniquity, yet our gracious God still continues to crown us with loving kindness and tender mercy, thereby laying us under increased obligations to render thanks to his name.

The Lord has founded Zion, and constituted Jesus Christ her only King and Lawgiver. He has given him universal moral dominion also, and commanded all kings and judges of the earth to kiss the Son and serve his church. And although the nations refuse to obey the divine injunction, yet the Redeemer sits established upon his throne, and, by his overruling power, preserves the church and causes all things to work together for his own glory and her ultimate good.

Though God has brought a cloud over Zion in visiting our aged ministers and elders with the rod of affliction, yet he has rejoiced our hearts in sparing their lives, and thus causing the lamp still to burn and give light to those who sit in darkness.

In the present urgent call for more laborers in the Master’s vineyard, it has pleased our covenant God to bring forward one to be a minister and a witness among us. Thus he is fulfilling his promise that instead of the fathers he will take the children. And we feel encouraged in the hope thus inspired, that the banner of a covenanted work of reformation and uniformity will continue to be openly displayed by a witnessing remnant.

We are still enjoying the means of grace in their divinely instituted form. We have peace and comparative liberty in the land wherein we dwell. The judgment of God is made known in the earth, and "Zion shall be redeemed with judgment."

A competent number of faithful witnesses are preserved in the earth to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints. While the prophets of Israel are like foxes in the desert, these witnesses of the Lord are enabled to exhibit a covenanted testimony in the perilous times in which we live.

God is manifesting his covenant faithfulness in sending us the various seasons in their appointed times. He is not leaving himself without witness, in that he is doing good, giving us rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness; rewarding the husbandman, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so that he hath not called for famine on the land nor broken the staff of bread.

Notwithstanding the covetousness that rules in the hearts of men, mechanics, merchants, and manufacturers, the reigning Mediator in his holy providence so overrules them that we can in some degree obtain such articles as are necessary to our comfort and well-being in this life.

Our God has put it into the hearts of men to construct railways, telegraphs and other improvements, and though these men are actuated by a covetous principle, yet God is by their instrumentality preparing a blessing for the church in future ages; and thereby verifying his own declaration that "the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just."

For these benefits and others not enumerated, we acknowledge our obligation to give thanks to the Author of all good, through Jesus Christ, the only Mediator.

The last Thursday of November, 1883. was appointed as a day of Thanksgiving, and the third Thursday of February, 1884, as a day of fasting.

The court took a recess till after the ordination.

The Moderator preached the sermon from 2 Tim. 2:15.

D. Steele defended Church Government and propounded the usual questions.

The candidate was ordained by prayer with the imposition of hands, and received the right hand of fellowship.

C. Clyde was then called to the Moderator’s chair.

Messrs. Fulton, C. Clyde, and G. Alexander were appointed a Commission until next meeting of Presbytery.

C. Clyde and J. Campbell were appointed a Committee on the Signs of the Times for the ensuing year.

Resolved, That when this court finally adjourn it be to meet at the call of the Moderator.

There was then an adjournment, with prayer, to meet in this place after the close of the sacramental solemnities.

Same place, June 11, P.M.

Sacramental services being ended, the Moderator constituted by prayer, Members spent some time in discussing matters of local interest; and finally adjourned by prayer, as above indicated.

JAMES CAMPBELL, Clerk.

APPENDIX.

North Union, Butler Co., Pa., May 5, 1883.

To the Moderator and other members of the Reformed Presbytery, to meet in Philadelphia, June 6, 1883:

Rev. Fathers and Brethren: In view of the disabled condition of the two oldest ministers of the Presbytery, which has in great measure unfitted them for active service in the Master’s vineyard: we, the elders and members of North Union congregation, pray you to place Mr. Charles Clyde, Probationer, under trial for ordination at your meeting, designated above.

JAMES ANDERSON,

DAVID A. RENFREW,

Elders, etc.

2. To the Moderator and other members of the Reformed Presbytery, to meet in the city of Philadelphia, on the first Wednesday of June, 1883, the petition of the Society in Des Moines Co, Iowa, showeth

That we have heard Mr. Charles Clyde exercise his gifts as a licentiate, and we believe that he is sound in doctrine and firm in Covenanting principles. It is our petition and desire that he be ordained to the work of the ministry wherever his lot may be cast.

In behalf of the Society,

WM. EDGAR,

JOHN W. EDGAR.

3. Extract from the Minutes of the Session of the Allegheny Congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, June 4, 1883:

Among other things, it was "Resolved, that in view of the infirm condition of our two oldest ministers, this session request the Reformed Presbytery, which is to meet in Philadelphia, June 6, 1883, to put Mr. Charles Clyde, licentiate, on trial for ordination."

JAS. F. FULTON, Mod.,

G. ALEXANDER, Clerk.

4. To the Moderator and other members of the Reformed Presbytery, to meet in Philadelphia on the first Wednesday in June, 1883, 10 o’clock A.M., the petition of the members of the congregation of Rochester, N.Y., humbly showeth:

That being seriously impressed with the low state of our Zion, and grieved for the afflictions of our beloved ministers, members of Presbytery with whom we deeply sympathize; one of whom, from feebleness of old age and infirmity, has ceased from public service; a second, in the inscrutable yet adorable providence of our Covenant God, has been unable to attend public service in the sanctuary, but who is now measurably restored to his wonted health, giving great cause for and calling forth many thanksgivings to our Heavenly Father for his spared life; and a third, though in feeble health, we trust will be able to meet with you in the court of the Lord’s House. Rejoicing, however, that in these circumstances our Blessed Master has put it into the heart of a young man, Mr. Charles Clyde, to devote himself in preparation for the work of the ministry, who, being found qualified and duly licensed, and who by his trials among the scattered Remnant under your care, has given merited satisfaction, so much so that we now earnestly beseech you to set him apart to the whole work of the ministry, "with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery." And that the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in your hands is the prayer of your petitioners.

JAMES CAMPBELL.

Elder, etc.