Brushcreek meeting-house, [Ohio], May 6th, 1844.
The Reformed Presbytery met according to adjournment, and at the hour of 11 o’clock A.M.; was constituted by prayer. The members present were, Rev. Robert Lusk, Mod., Rev. David Steele, with Messrs. John French, and Thomas Steele, ruling elders. Rev. Mr. Lusk was continued moderator; and Mr. Matthew Mitchel, being present, was called to act as Clerk. Mr. Thomas Ralston, ruling elder, appeared and was recognized as a member of court. The Minutes of the last meeting of Presbytery were read and approved.
Papers being called for, there were laid on the table Nos. 1, 2 and 3. These papers were ordered to be read; which being done,—on motion, a committee consisting of Lusk, Ralston and Steele, elder; were appointed on No. 1. A committee of three—D. Steele, French and Ralston, were appointed on papers No. 2 and 3. Court then adjourned to meet at the Associate Reformed meeting-house, Georgescreek, at 2 o’clock A. M. tomorrow.—Closed with prayer.
Georgescreek meeting house, [Ohio], May 7, 10 o’clock A. M.
Court met agreeably to adjournment, and was constituted by prayer. Members all present except Mr. Ralston.
Reports of committees were called for. Rev. R. Lusk, chairman, presented a report on No. 1. The report was read and accepted.—A motion having been made for adopting the report; it was moved and carried that the document be read and considered paragraph by paragraph; which being done, the report was amended and adopted. The petition No. 1, and the report thereon are as follows:
May 2d, 1844.—To the Moderator and other members of the Ref. Presbytery, to meet at Brushcreek, May 6th, 1844—Rev. Fathers. In examining the terms of communion as adopted at last meeting of Presbytery; it appears that the Historical part of the Testimony has not been acknowledged in that deed. Your petitioners, believing that every honest and faithful covenanter holds this as A PART of the Testimony; would therefore ask the Presbytery to embody an acknowledgment of it in the terms of communion, in so far as it is agreeable to the other Standards of the church; and your petitioners, as in duty bound, will every pray, &c. Thomas Ralston, Jas. Williams, sen[ior].
Your committee, to whom was referred paper No. 1; having had the matter and the view contemplated in that instrument, under consideration, would respectfully report.—In the history of human conduct an of thought, it is often manifest to the attentive observer, that misconceptions arise, and are entertained, from innovations made on former habits of thought and of action. Such becomes matter of deep concern, when it affects the thoughts and the actions of the witnesses of Christ, desiring to hold fast whereunto they have already attained; witnessing to the truth, not simply as truth, but as Christ’s truth; not simply as rational beings, but as Christ’s witnesses—“Ye are my witnesses.”
In view of these principles, the testimony of the Church of Christ has embraced declaration of doctrine, argument and history, each in its kind. She has therefore been a witnessing community, and her children,—Witnesses. Such has been her character, and such has been the habit of thought and of practice of her children. A violation of these principles was effected, and an innovation on these habits made, on the publishing of Reformation Principles Exhibited, by which history and argument were despoiled of their testamentary character, and as a consequence, from habit of thought and of practice, individual opinion in the community, was directly opposed to their public profession; in which they declare, that argument and history are no articles of faith.
The following is therefore submitted for the consideration and disposal of the court:—That the historical part of the book, popularly styled “Reformation Principles Exhibited,” be approved,—so far as it accords with the other standards of the church, and the formal nature of such an instrument: and that this document, as thus approved, be recognized in the formula of the terms of communion.
R. LUSK, Ch.
While here documents were under consideration, Mr. Ralston appeared and took his seat. Messrs. McKinley and Mitchel, ruling elders, being present, were invited to seats as consultative members of Presbytery. They accepted the invitation. Mr. Ralston asked and obtained leave of absence from the remaining sessions of the court. Adjourned by prayer, to meet here at 10 o’clock A. M. tomorrow.
Same place, May 8th, 10 o’clock A. M.
Court met and was constituted by prayer. Members all present, except Ralston absent on leave. The minutes of last sitting were read and approved. Moved and carried, that in view of yesterday’s action on the historical part of Ref[ormation] Prin[ciples] Exhibited, the words—‘also historical,’ be inserted in the fifth term of communion in the proper place. On motion the note appended to the terms of communion at the last meeting of Presbytery, was amended, by striking out the specifications of defects in the declaratory part of Ref. Prin. Exhibited, and adding the word standards,—not that these specifications are considered less exceptionable than before; but that the defective document may be subjected to careful examination. Moved and carried,—that an additional explanatory note be appended to the fifth term of communion, agreeably to the action of yesterday, in the following words:—The Presbytery approve the Historical part, only so far as it accords with the other standards of the church, and the formal nature of such an instrument. The Terms of communion, as adopted, are the following:—
MINISTERIAL AND CHRISTIAN COMMUNION,
REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
1. An acknowledgment of the Old and New Testament to be the word of God, and the alone infallible rule of faith and practice.
2. 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.
3. An acknowledgment that Presbyterian 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.
4. An acknowledgment that public, social covenanting is an ordinance of God, and obligatory on 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.
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, also, the Declaratory and Historical parts of Reformation Principles Exhibited, emitted by the Reformed Presbytery 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.
On motion, the following preamble and resolution were adopted,—Whereas the addition of explanatory notes to the formula of our terms of communion is at all times cumbersome; and whereas this addition is the necessary consequence of innovations, which, in the judgment of many, were long since made upon the public faith of the church; and whereas it is desirable that the occasion for these notes should be removed as soon as practicable:—therefore, Resolved, That the Declaratory and Historical parts of Reformation Principles Exhibited be, and they hereby are, submitted in overture before our people; and they are earnestly desired to give them a careful and prompt examination, and forward their remarks to this court.
The committee on papers No. 2, and 3 reported. The report was accepted, and while a motion for adoption was pending, the court had a recess to meet at the house of Rev. D. Steele, 2 o’clock, P. M.
The time of recess having expired, the Mod[erator] called the members to order at the place appointed. Members present as before. The consideration of the report on papers No. 2, and 3, was resumed, and after amendments, was adopted. The papers and the report thereon are as follows:—Paper No. 2. Rev. Fathers and Brethren on the Reformed Presbytery, to meet in Adams co., Ohio, on the first Monday of May, 1844.—We the elders and private members of Miami Congregation having had a meeting, passed the following resolutions.
1. That we ask the administration of the Lord’s supper amongst us, as soon as convenient. 2. That we ask Presbytery for the moderation of a call. 3. That we unanimously agree to aid, according to our ability, in the revival and support of the Contending Witness. 4. That Mr. John French, sen[ior] be our commissioner to the Reformed Presbytery.
April 19, 1844. Signed on behalf of the congregation,
Paper No. 3.—To the Rev. Moderator and other members of the Reformed Presbytery, to meet at Brushcreek, Adams co., Ohio, on the 6th of May, 1844. We the members of the Mercer co. congregation, Pa., still desiring to enjoy the ordinances of the house of God, to be administered amongst us, both doctrinally and sacramentally; would earnestly request of this court to send one of its ministers so to do. We would further beg leave to state, that owing to pecuniary embarrassments, we are not able to promise adequate compensation for the labors which we ask. Mistake us not,—we mean not to put a price on divine ordinances; but if a minister cannot come for such remuneration as we are able to render; we are sorry to say, we must want, which we hope will not be the case.
March 17, 1844. Signed by order of the congregation.
Your committee, to whom were referred papers No. 2 and 3, beg leave to report.—With a view to compliance with the prayers of the petitioners, in both these remote sections of our church; your committee would recommend the considerations following to the court:—That the dispensation of the Lord’s supper and the moderation in a call in Miami congregation be deferred until the next meeting of Presbytery—which meeting we hereby suggest, should be held in that place sometime in the ensuing fall.—And that Rev. D. Steele he appointed to administer ordinances in answer to the prayer of the petitioners in Mercer co., Pa. congregation, at his earliest convenience.
In relation to the resuscitation of the C[ontending] Witness [Magazine], your committee would express their satisfaction with, and cordial concurrence in, the desire so unanimously expressed by the brethren of Miami congregation; and would earnestly hope that a similar spirit of liberality and honest zeal for the more conspicuous and extensive display of the Reformation Banner, may soon animate all those who wish well to Zion. And in order to the diffusion of this spirit, we suggest the duty and expediency of the members of this court adopting some such measures as may be exemplary and tend to give such impulse to this spirit of liberality and christian zeal as may be followed by an effectual working in ‘the measure of every part’ of our social organization—“to the edifying of itself in love,” and to the attracting the attention and directing the inquiries of others. Your committee have no intention to recommend the Magazine to the judicial patronage of this court; or that it should be viewed by them or others as in any sense, the Reformed Presbytery’s organ.
Respectfully submitted by your Committee.
A paper was laid on the table and numbered 4. It is as follows: To the Moderator and remanent members of the Ref. Presby., to meet at Brushcreek, Adams co., Ohio, on the first Monday of May, 1844.—Dear Fathers and Brethren,—Though various agencies have diminished the number of adherents to Reformation Principles in our neighborhood; yet still there are a few who would desire to be found faithful to their covenant engagements; and would ask of you such supply as you can afford, and we can support, without neglecting other portions of the Lord’s heritage.—That the pleasure of the Lord may prosper in your hands, is the desire of your petitioners.
On motion the prayer of the petitioners was granted.
Moved and carried that Rev. R. Lusk and Mr. John French be appointed a committee, to have in readiness causes of fasting and thanksgiving, to be submitted to this court at its next meeting. On motion the court adjourned to meet in the bounds of Miami congregation, Logan co., O., on the 23d October next, at 11 o’clock, A. M. The Minutes were read, corrected and approved. The Moderator closed with prayer.
R. LUSK, Modr.
M. MITCHEL, Clk.
[1.] Any defects in this instrument, are to be supplied from the foregoing standards.
[2.] The Presbytery approve the Historical part, only so far as it accords with the other standards of the church, and the formal nature of such an instrument.