MINUTES OF PROCEEDINGS OF THE
AT GREENFIELD, HARRISON COUNTY, OHIO, 1843.
Residence of Mr. Nathan Johnson, Harrison county, Ohio, Oct. 9th, 1843.
The Reformed Presbytery met according to adjournment and was constituted with prayer. The following were recognized as members of the court: viz. Rev. R. Lusk, Mod[erator], Rev. D. Steele, Messrs. Wm McKinley, Hugh Rainey and Nathan Johnson, ruling elders. Mr. Joseph McElroy, elder, being present was on motion invited to a seat as a consultative member. He accepted the invitation.
Rev. R. Lusk was continued Moderator, and H. Rainey appointed Clerk.
The Minutes of the last meeting of Presbytery were read and approved.
Papers being called for, the following were presented and numbered.—From Logan co., O[hio], a paper of the nature of petition and memorial No. 1. From Xenia, a petition for supply of ordinances. No. 2. Verbal petitions for supplies were then presented from the congregation of Mercer. co., Pa.; from Walnut Creek, Ohio; and from Greenfield, Harrison co., O[hio]. On motion the papers lying on the table were read. No. 1 is as follows:—
To the Moderator and other members of the Reformed Presbytery, to meet at Greenfield. Harrison co., Ohio, on the second Monday of Oct., 1843.
Rev. Fathers and Brethren:—
Being aggrieved with the apostasy and tyranny of the so called Old Light Synod; we do recognize you as a court of Christ’s house, to whom we are desirous of subjecting ourselves in the Lord, in our sessional and congregational capacity. We ask to be taken under your presbyterial inspection and to be supplied with gospel ordinances.—We do humbly petition you, Rev. Fathers and Brethren, to take measures for a renewal of the covenants as soon as practicable: also beseeching you to alter or correct the Preface of the North American Testimony, that the term testimony may be restored to its former use in the church. On granting these our petitions, or so far as consistent with other demands upon you; we shall ever pray that the Head of the church may preside among you and direct your deliberations, so as to redound to his glory and the advancement of his cause in the earth.
On behalf of the Session and Congregation, by
JOHN D. FRENCH,
MATTHEW MITCHELL, &c.
Miami, Logan co., O[hio], Sept. 23, 1843.
The papers having been read, it was on motion.
Resolved, That all the petitions for supplies be granted, according to Presbytery’s ability.
So much paper No. 1 as is the nature of memorial, was on motion referred to a committee of one minister and two elders to report thereon. The Mod[erator] [i.e., Mr. Lusk] was appointed chairman, who with Messrs. Johnson and Rainey were that committee.
On motion, Presby[tery] had a recess till 2 o’clock.
Time of recess being expired, the court was called to resume business by the Modr. The members were all present.
On motion, a committee was appointed to have in readiness the causes of fasting and thanksgiving, as soon as practicable. The Mod[erator] appointed Messrs. Steele, McKinley, and Johnson, that committee.
Unfinished business was called up. Inquiry being made, as to the observance of a day of public thanksgiving; the answers were satisfactory.
The terms of communion in Overture, having been under consideration for a time; a motion for adjournment was offered and carried, to meet at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning.
The minutes were read and approved. Closed with prayer.
Same place, Oct. 10th, 10 o’clock A. M.
Court met and constituted by prayer. Members were all present. Reports of committees were called for. The committee on the memorial part of No. 1. reported. The document being accepted, was on motion considered paragraph by paragraph and adopted. It is as follows:—
Your committee, to whom were referred the items of memorial, beg leave respectfully to report.
That after a patient examination of the subjects referred, viz: the renovation of covenant engagements; and the restoring the term testimony to its former use: are fully aware of difficulties in the way, as to immediate action in reference to the former; and also as to the latter, as it respects rewriting and publishing the preface to “Reformation Principles Exhibited,” in connection with the work—a new edition of the work.
In order to the renovation of covenant engagements, the following things would appear necessary as preparatory:—a knowledge of the duty, of the provisions of their instrument, their application, the breaches of covenant and the particular engagements, to fortify the covenanter in the time and country wherein he lives. Therefore,
With a view to formal action, in covenant renovation, your committee would recommend the enjoining upon the officers of the church, a diligent and careful instructing of the members, in the foresaid particulars, in order to intelligent and conscientious action in the solemn work.
As to the limiting of the term testimony, in the preface to R[eformation] P[rinciples] Exhibited,—excluding history and argument; it has been subjected to animadversion both in Europe and America.—In view of the constitution bestowed on the rational creature by the Creator; the exercise of all his powers, in the discharge of duty; the obligation to confess our own sins and those of our fathers;—the fathers recording the works of the Lord, and transmitting them to their children; the use of the term in the Scottish Testimony and the authority therein adduced: it would appear, that as to history and argument; there was no necessity for limiting the term. But especially as some of the distinctive practical traits of the church, as stated in the history,—such as occasional hearing, serving on juries, although doctrines, are thereby rendered void in their application—as being no articles of faith:—the following is therefore recommended for adoption:—
Resolved, That the term testimony, as limited in the preface to R[eformation] P[rinciples] Exhibited, be restored to its former use.
R. LUSK, Ch.
The Committee on causes of fasting, &c. reported in part, and were allowed farther time to complete their report.
The Overture terms of communion, having been again under consideration; the document was on motion referred to a committee.—The court appointed the Modr. chairman; who with Johnson and Rainey were that committee.
On motion, adjourned till 3 o’clock P. M. Concluded with prayer.
Same place, 3 o’clock P. M.
Court met and constituted by prayer;—members all present. The committee on causes of fasting and thanksgiving reported in full.—The report was accepted, and after examination by paragraph, was on motion adopted. The document is as follows:
CAUSES OF FASTING.
From the condition of society in general,—civil, ecclesiastical, commercial, agricultural, financial, literary and theological; the cry in confession should be raised, by every individual and community:—We have sinned with our fathers; we have committed iniquity,—we have done wickedly, Ps. cvi. 6. With deep interest and heartfelt earnestness, should the language be adopted: Shew us wherefore thou contendest with us, Job x. 2. Among the causes of fasting and humiliation, legible in the signs of the times, the following appear prominent:
1. A settled opposition still obtains against the Lord’s Anointed. “We will not have him to reign over us:—He has nothing to do with affairs of state.”—is the practical language of a large majority in the population of christendom. And however different in forms and provisions the constitutions of civil government are; they agree in denying to the Mediator the right of universal empire, and refuse to kiss the Son. Men yield that homage which is due to him to the creatures of imagination, under the pretext of liberty of conscience and toleration: and even those who profess to regard the Scriptures as the revealed will of God, and call themselves christians, enforce the pagan dogmas of ancient Greece and Rome, without the rational, Athenian discrimination—regard to “the unknown God, in whom we live, move,” &c.
2. Nominal christianity, by perverting scripture sentiment and phraseology, as—“The powers that be, are ordained of God;” countenances, inculcates and sustains the pagan doctrine, discarding Grecian discrimination.
3. Divine institutions are set at nought, under the pretext of not answering the ends for which they were designed: and the earth—(the prophetic symbol of the collective body of the population of christendom, in individual character, and elementary constituents of the man of sin; and the agents of the grand foe, Rev. xii. 9, through the policy of the dragon, and the deceitfulness of the human heart:) is the agency, irrespective of divine institution, whereby mankind vainly attempt to effect those objects, which are attainable only through the medium of divine ordinances. This symbolical earth, practising on the social principle, in all possible variety of practical forms; will fall as far short of effecting the ends of divine ordinances, as the antichristian church and pagan commonwealths. They failed to bless the earth with peace, because were irrational substitutes for divine ordinances.
4. Constitutional provisions, civil and ecclesiastical, are little regarded, and the obligation of plighted faith is little felt. The foundations of social order are evidently out of course. Of this state of things, we have frequent and painful evidence, in the disorderly meetings, tyranny and partiality of deliberative bodies.
5. The rights of God and those of man are counted but small matters, and are discarded when they interfere with the intrigues of those, who are bent upon maintaining a corrupt system, or who are resolved to advance or perpetuate apostasy. Hence the chicanery, double dealing, vociferation, &c., practiced in deliberative bodies and courts of judicature.
6. Gambling is legalized, and thereby cupidity and fraud cherished and promoted. Witness horse-racing, banking—as too often conducted; insurance companies; and the recent, alarming doctrine of what is termed repudiation.
7. The oath of naturalization is a great snare. The jurant often swears to a blank, having never examined the documents which contain the provisions of his oath.
8. Manifest visitations of providence are not prized, nor the doctrines of the gospel improved. Religion is too often regarded as a ceremony—affecting only the outer man, and not influencing the affections of the heart.
9. The fountains of literature are poisoned by heathen dogmas. A false philosophy is received—incompetent teachers are employed; who, by fawning and studied duplicity, work for the popular favor.—From such fountains the streams must be deleterious and the end desolation.
10. Fraud is common between man and man, in political, ecclesiastical and commercial transactions. The candid, unsuspecting and conscientious are subjected to suffering and loss, by the deceitful, the designing and the hardened in crime.
11. Uncleanness in all its grades, is found in the community; and does not always form a barrier to ecclesiastical fellowship. The cohabitation of husband and wife is not held indispensable, in order to partake of the sacramental symbols.
12. Scriptural qualifications for office in the state are discarded; and in the church, dispensed with in whole or in part.
13. No man has an opportunity in the present condition of society, to exercise the several rights belonging to him in social life, as the gift of God; and as duties to be performed in a scripturally organized state of society.
14. The desecration of the sabbath is legalized, and men are held in bondage by law.
15. We have reason to believe that errors in doctrine—reaching the foundation of the christian’s hope, continue to be inculcated from the pulpit, from the press, and from the chair of the theological professor;—even among those who still profess adherence to, and to be witnesses for, the whole of a covenanted reformation!
16. Many among the same class of witnesses—influenced by the vain and groundless hope of effecting moral reform; yet cling, with all the obstinacy of determined perseverance, to unholy associations and corrupting fellowships with the infidel and heretic.
17. And lastly,—in all these steps of waywardness, immorality and anti-christianism; those who profess to minister at the altar, are chief in the trespass:—And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth, Rev. xii. 4.
For these things, the eyes should run down with tears,—the faithful weep in secret: for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men. They bend their tongue like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me saith the Lord, Jer. ix. 2, 3.
However painful to flesh and blood, affecting to the natural sympathies of the human heart, and occasionally perplexing to the human mind, the judgments of God may be: they are all done in truth and righteousness. They are his fearful works in righteousness—done in answer to the prayers of his people. They come to pass in response to the cry of Christ’s witnesses—Thy kingdom come—How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth. Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know you not, and upon the families that call not on thy name: for they have eaten up Jacob, and devoured him and consumed him, and have made his habitation desolate, Jer. x. 2.—Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name. For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his dwelling place, Ps. lxxix. 6, 7.
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
The God of Israel is a holy God, and he is a righteous God—jealous of his character and institutions.—Justice and judgment are the basis of his throne, mercy and truth go continually before him. The faithfulness of God inspires confidence, enlivens hope, and causes joy in the believer. He knows that he is able to keep that which he has committed to him. He is assured that he is faithful who has promised—that he will accomplish his purposes and fulfil all his promises. Hence when the judgments of God are abroad in the earth—kingdoms shaking to the foundation—antichristian thrones tottering, and their incumbents filled with horror and alarm—sinners in Zion afraid, and fearfulness surprising the hypocrite: Mount Zion will rejoice and the daughters of Judah will be glad, because of the judgments of their sovereign and blessed Lord, Ps. xlviii. 11. Amidst the distractions, disaffections and sufferings of our times, portending still more heavy judgments; Zion has reasons abundant to rejoice, and the daughters of Judah to be glad:—
1. Because of the divine faithfulness, made manifest in preserving a remnant, to proclaim the glorious excellencies of the Lord Jesus Christ, their only Lord and Savior; who is the eternally begotten of the Father, verily God in our nature,—possessed of all necessary personal qualifications for the performance of the work, which pertains to him in covenant relationship, as it respects the adorable Three:—the work contemplated in covenant engagement, as to official standing,—the one Mediator—the only Savior—the King of Zion, and the Prince of the kings of the earth:—holding in his hand the annals of eternity, and the executor of the divine purposes.
2. The people of God are thankfully to observe the doings of his hand in providential; procedure, and record them, of whatever aspect; as evidences or testimonies of his faithfulness,—both as it respects his promises and threatenings. And they are to transmit the record to those who come after; thus their testimony to the faithfulness of God is augmenting in each succeeding generation—each telling the following, what God did for them in their time.
3. They are called to observe with care the movements of the Dragon and his special agents—the character of the war carried on by the woman her seed; in order to distinguish clearly the outer court—the gentile church, from the measured temple of the Lord: and to discriminate between fellowship in the camp of the dragon, and that which is observed and exemplified at the measured altar of the Lord, Rev. xi. 1, 2.
4. Natural conscience is awakened; and however obscure and indefinite its perceptions may be; its claims, when in unison with self-interest and party purposes, will be felt by society. This will appear from the remarks following:—
First,—Enslaving unoffending men is declared to be sinful; a violation of moral law and offensive to the Deity.
Second,—It has got abroad, that certain qualifications are necessary in a candidate for civil office, in order to warrant the suffrages of his constituents.
Third,—That murder, and the stealing a man, or selling him for a slave, should subject to capital punishment: and
Fourth,—That constitutional provisions ought not to conflict with the claims of justice among men; in depriving of natural right.
Though these squinting views and purblind perceptions of natural conscience, be not carried fully to their proper results: yet the effects in social life, are extensively felt, in the numerous collisions, jarring sentiments, agitated and convulsed, state of society: as is apparent,—
1. In the urging of those claims. Slavery has become unpopular, and emancipation has been effected to a considerable extent, to subserve private interest. Witness emancipation in the British possessions abroad.
2. Commercial restrictions are views as hostile to these claims; hence the combinations for their removal.
3. These claims of natural conscience and of justice, have roused the common people to reassert their rights;—having suffered from the perfidy and apostasy of their leaders both in Europe and America. The democracy, in the general bearings of society, are in a position of determined resistance to the aristocracy,—both civil and ecclesiastic. The former urge their rights and charge perfidy and apostasy with boldness: the latter quail, parry and dissemble, to put off the evil day, being conscious of what result of the contest will eventually be.
4. Secessions have been effected by the more honest, faithful and pure part of the community, from the corrupt and corrupting part; pointing to the constitutional principles of the communities severally, as understood at the time of their organization; and how error in doctrine and oppression in discipline, have supervened by the intrigues of designing men. And however far short these claims fall of identifying the party with the true Reformed Covenanted Church, and characterizing them as those who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ: (Rev. xii. 17,) the urging of these claims shows that society is not in a settled condition; that inquiry is on the alert; that faithfulness is desirable; that professors are not to be robbed and or pilfered of their plighted faith; and that the impositions of dissimulation will not be always tolerated.
However, calculated to fill with dismay the enemies of truth and righteousness, the aspects of providence may be; and awfully portentous to the hosts of the dragon:—to the called and chosen and faithful, they are the harbingers of joy; the evidences of the faithfulness of their glorious Lord, who sits upon the white cloud, (Rev. xiv. 14,) directs the wheels—executing righteous judgments—preparing the way for his saints to take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever, (Dan. vii. 18)—Zion will therefore rejoice and the daughters of Judah will be glad.
The appointment of seasons to be set apart by the congregations and people under your care, for acting on these causes of fasting and thanksgiving; your committee leave to the court.
The committee on the terms of communion in Overture reported. The report was accepted, and on motion adopted. It is as follows:—
Your committee on the “terms in Overture” would respectfully report:—Inasmuch as some of our people have expressed a desire that the terms should remain numerically the same as heretofore; this can be easily effected, by embodying the fifth and sixth in one: and the Historical part of Reformation Principles Exhibited, having never been judicially declared an article of faith; testamentary in character; we would recommend that the fifth and sixth articles stand thus:—
5. 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: the judicial Act, Declaration and Testimony, emitted by the Reformed Presbytery in North Britain, 1761; and the Declaratory part of Reformation Prin[ciple] Exhibited, emitted by the Ref[ormed] Presby[tery] in North America, 1806; 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.
6. Practically adorning the doctrine of God our Savior, by walking in all his commandments and ordinances blamelessly.
R. LUSK, Ch.
The court appointed the first Thursday of December next, to be observed as a day of thanksgiving; and the second Thursday of March, 1844, as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, by all under their care.
On motion, adjourned to meet at Brushcreek, Adams co., Ohio, on the first Monday of May, 1844.
The Minutes having been read and approved:—closed with prayer.
R. LUSK, Modr.
H. RAINEY, Clk.
[1.] Any defects in this instrument, such as on the doctrine of free agency, faith, the civil magistrate’s power, &c. are to be supplied from the foregoing.