Reformed Presbyterian Church
House of S.M. Hartzell
NORTH UNION, BUTLER CO., PA.
JUNE 14TH, 1920
The General Meeting of the Reformed Presbyterian Church met according to adjournment and was opened with prayer.
Members present:—William Edgar, H.M. Hartzell, S.M. Hartzell, T. James Blair, William Watson, and D.L. Hartzell.
The minutes of the last meeting were read and approved.
S.M. Hartzell was elected chairman and H.M. Hartzell clerk.
The meeting then proceeded to the business of the sederunt: and the report of committees being first in order, the committee on the Signs of the Times presented their report, the report was accepted and approved, and ordered published with the minutes.
The Committee on Finances reported $69.00 interest on hand. On motion it was directed to be used the same as last year.
The Chairman appointed the following committees for the ensuing year:—
On the Signs of the Times, T. James Blair and William Edgar: On Finances, D. L. Hartzell and William Watson.
The days appointed for Thanksgiving and Fasting had been observed by all our members. It was ordained that the last Thursday of November next be observed as a day of Thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of February, 1921, as a day of Fasting by all under our care.
It was moved that we adjourn to meet in the bounds of this society on the second Monday of June, 1921.
Adjourned by prayer.
S.M. HARTZELL, Chairman.
H.M. HARTZELL, Clerk.
Report of Committee on Signs of the Times.
Man is an insignificant dot on the map of the universe; and his dependent nature and feebleness as a creature should he sufficient reasons to humble him before the Mighty God: the added fact that he is a sinful creature, should make him bow low, with a deep sense of humiliation, before the throne of the Eternal.
The conduct of the saints is recorded for our example:—“If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean; yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch and mine own clothes shall abhor me.” Job 9:30,31. “I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin.” Ps. 38:17,18.
In consideration of these things we note the following as a few of the manifold causes of fasting and humiliation lying before us.
I. We confess that our own sins are many and aggravated in God’s sight.
1. The means of grace, which we enjoy, are not esteemed nor as diligently improved as they should be. The means by which we may know that God is in Christ reconciling sinners to himself, is the gift of God’s grace; and the greater the opportunity and privilege the greater the responsibility. “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” Luke 12:48.
God has appointed all the ordinances which He will have in His house, and promised His blessing to those who attend upon them with carefulness and Godly fear; and He requires the service of the whole man soul and body.
How often do worldly tasks sap too much of our bodily strength and vigor, so that we come to the ordinances weary and drowsy; and offer to God only a dead sacrifice. Can we so offend the glorious and dreadful majesty of Jehovah and be guiltless?
Again we must confess, that sometimes when we attend with our bodily senses there is lack of spiritual attention; we draw near to God with our lips, while our hearts are wandering on the mountains of vanity. A due consideration of these things should humble us in the dust. Let us confess and forsake our sins that we may obtain mercy and forgiveness. “Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings.” Jer. 7:3. “Break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hos. 10:12.
2. We do not grow in grace as we might and should. This arises principally from our want of attending on the means of grace with more care, diligence, faithfulness and zeal. The command is, “Grow in grace,” but how can we expect to grow while neglecting the Divinely appointed means? Godly care and laborious diligence, in the use of means, must be our constant companions, if our path lead to the glorious light and eternal felicity of perfect day. “Strive (agonize) to enter in at the strait gate.” Luke 13:24. “The path of the just is as the shinning light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Prov. 4:18.
3. We are lacking in strong faith, the faith that makes martyrs. This fruit of the Holy Spirit is inseparably connected with all growth in grace and practical godliness; because it works by love and purifies the heart. “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” Gal. 5:6.
Weak faith brings many falls and much sorrow; strong faith surmounts every barrier and holds on the way victorious! “Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.” Zech. 4:7. “This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” 1 Jno. 5:4. We have constant need to present our petition at a throne of grace; “Lord, increase our faith.” Luke 17:5.
4. Dearth of spiritual mindedness. How little evidence do we often give of being pilgrims journeying to the Jerusalem above. The emigrant to a far country does not concern himself much with the place where he stops for a night; but his heart is set on his distant home in the fair land to which he is bound, and he never wearies of expatiating on the good things he expects to enjoy there. We must confess sin in this respect. How often are our thoughts wandering abroad on the mountains of vanity, or grovelling in the dust of the earth; instead of contemplating the wondrous love and wisdom of God in ransoming elect sinners from death, by the gift of His beloved son; and the glories “of the inheritance of the saints in light.” Col. 1:12. For if we have laid up for ourselves “treasures in heaven.” (Mat. 6:20), then we should be able to say with the apostle, “Our conversation is in heaven.” Phil. 3:20. “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also “ Mat. 6:21. “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.” Col. 3:2.
II. When we look on society in general, we see that the rod of pride has blossomed, and its baneful fruits are manifest in the practical and speculative atheism now covering the earth.
Men no longer say in their hearts, or whisper to themselves, that there is no God; but they openly and impudently avow their unbelief: living and acting as though there were no higher power, no righteous judge, to ever call them to account for their evil deeds.
Atheism is very prevalent among those calling themselves ministers of the gospel. Many ministers represent God as all love and mercy to the sons of men; and so deny Him the right or will to punish His creatures for sin. They do not set forth the truth as taught in the Scriptures, that it is natural to God to punish sin.
Those who deny God’s attribute of justice are atheists, that deny His right to be. God cannot be God without all the divine attributes; and no attribute of Jehovah is more clearly set forth in His Word than is vindictive justice. The Lord God—will by no means clear the guilty; “visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and fourth generation.” Ex. 34:6,7.
“Thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. * * * * * Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” Ps. 5:4,5. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity.”' Hab. 1:13. “Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.” Heb. 10:30.
2. A general disregard of God’s law.
Those who have slight thoughts of the being of Jehovah will not much regard His righteous precepts. In our day, men in their practical walk have virtually cast God’s law behind their backs.
The Fourth commandment says:—”Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work.” Ex. 20:8-10. Multitudes wholly disregard the injunction, continuing their labors the same as on other days of the week. And many, who refrain from manual labor, spend the day in pleasure, or idleness, or gluttony and carousal; while few, very few, sanctify it to God’s service.
As the Sabbath rest and sanctification is one of the greatest blessings and highest privileges which any people can have placed before them; so its rejection and profanation is a most heinous iniquity; which a holy God will assuredly visit with the fire of His wrath. “If ye will not hearken unto me to hallow the sabbath-day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath-day; then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Jer. 17:27.
And in their dealings one with another men have refused God’s law as their guide. God commands: “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.” Lev. 19:11. “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” Mat. 7:12.
Multitudes cheat and lie and defraud and oppress their neighbors at every opportunity; and even boast of what they have made by their dishonest craft. Those who are able to make large gains dishonestly are not punished as they should be, often escaping without any adequate penalty. Crime of every kind is increasing by leaps and bounds.
III. When we consider the nominal pillars of Christianity they appear to be but broken reeds, very unsafe pillars on which to lean.
1. There is conformity to the world, conformity to the world is a dangerous and deceitful influence; within the Church of God, whereby the line of demarcation between the world and the Church gradually becomes obliterated; and, unless it is arrested by the grace of God, always ends in the Church being engulfed by the world.
The horrid mummeries and heathen practices of the papacy were first introduced in a spirit of conformity to the world; in order to draw the heathen into the Church, and then (so it was asserted) gradually reform them. We have the result plainly marked; the gradual development of the “man of sin,” and most dreadful apostacy and idolatry.
The apostolical injunction to the believing Romans was:—Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Rom. 12:2.
But, conformity to the world was, we think, never more developed than in these last days of the great Protestant apostacy. Those called Churches are so clothed with the world’s colors, and imprinted with the world’s impress; that there is little or nothing to distinguish the one from the other.
In receiving members into the Church, and selecting leaders to shepherd them, the fashion now seems to pattern after Jeroboam, who made of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: “whosoever would, he consecrated him.” 1 Kings 13:33.
Almost anyone who desires may become a member, or teacher, even of those bodies called Presbyterian and Reformed, for the bars are seldom raised against any, even of the ignorant, profane or scandalous. Such as wish may consecrate themselves by bringing, instead of “a young bullock and seven rams” (see 2 Chron. 13:9); a piece, or rather several pieces of money. Those who contribute, liberally and regularly, to the schemes of the Church; are likely to have their sins condoned, or passed over in silence.
2. Want of charity and brotherly kindness.
Love is the cement that should unite those professing to be brethren in Christ. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Ps. 133:1.
He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” 1 Jno. 4:20.
Now there is very little of brotherly love in the earth. We see factions and most bitter strife among those calling themselves brethren. “All the law is fulfilled in one word even in this. ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Gal. 5:14-15.
Causes of Thanksgiving.
“Praise God for He is good,” and His goodness to us is over all His other works. We have always many grounds of thankfulness and gratitude to Him for His kind providence and the blessings which through it we enjoy.
1. Our continued preservation surrounded, as we are, by circumstances of external comfort ought to ever excite our hearts to thankfulness and praise to Jehovah for His mercies. Various instrumentalities of God’s wrath have been poured out on different parts of the earth, storms, famines, pestilences, &c.; yet we have been mercifully preserved, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth prepared to our hand. Let us thankfully acknowledge these temperal benefits as purchased for us by the doing and dying of our blessed Redeemer.
The promise of eternal life to the elect has this promise of temporal benefits embodied in it. “I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn and increase it, and lay no famine upon you.” Ezek. 36:29.
The apostle assures us that Godliness has the “promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” 1 Tim. 4:8.
2. We bless our covenant Lord for His promises of protection, as well as provision, and the gracious fulfilling of them. “There shall no evil befall thee; * * for he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Ps. 91:10,11. “I, saith the Lord, will be unto her (Zion) a wall of fire round about.” Zech. 2:5.
3. We should be very thankful for the refreshing influences of His Holy Spirit wherewith Jesus Christ vivifies and enlivens more and more the souls of his people. “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.” Ps. 72:6. “I will be as the dew unto Israel.” Hos. 14:5.
As the fructifying influences of the dew and rain coming down on the newly mown meadows causes the grass to grow and spring up anew; so Christ Jesus by the dews and rains of saving influences makes the souls of those united to Him to “revive as the corn and grow as the vine.” Verse 7.
4. Let us bless God for the freeness of His electing love, and the choosing of His elect in Christ. God’s love in choosing the elect is most free. There is not one who has anything to commend him to God. “For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what has that thou didst not receive?” 1 Cor. 4:7.
No reason can be found for election but only the pleasure of God’s will. “It is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ according as He hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.” Eph. 1.3-5.
And how thankful we should be that the elect are chosen in Christ. This manner of choice makes their salvation invincible; it can never miscarry. “For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” Jno. 5:26. Christ is the living head—”the Prince of life” Acts 3:15, and implantation into Him infuses life into His members, “Because I live, ye shall live also.” Jno. 14:19. This is the immovable ground of our hope and safety, “that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His son.” 1 Jno. 5:11.
5. Thankfulness should fill our hearts for the privileges we enjoy. Many, as good by nature as we, have been passed by and left in the darkness of heathenism; while we have the Word of Truth in our hands, revealing to us the mystery of salvation. We have liberty to read God’s word and to worship Him, none daring to molest or make us afraid. We enjoy the fruit of our fathers faithful and heroic contendings, and sufferings; who to secure this liberty suffered even to the death.
We should be thankful that we have the privilege holding fast the same precious truths that illustrious professors and martyrs of Jesus held. We have the blood bought privilege of holding aloft the same banner “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant” borne by our noble Scottish forefathers. “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth.” Ps. 60:4.
These are but a tithe of the mercies God has graciously bestowed on us; devout thankfulness should fill our hearts for His abundant goodness. “O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of His praise to be heard.” Ps. 66:8.