MINUTES OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY.
HILL PRAIRIE, RANDOLPH CO., ILL[INOIS], March 14, 1859.
The Reformed Presbytery met according to adjournment in Hill Prairie meeting-house, and was constituted by prayer: ministerial members both present, together with Joseph Akin of Miami, and Joseph Keys of Hill Prairie congregations, ruling elders. Matthew Mitchel of Macon county, Ill., was also admitted to a seat in court.
The minutes of last meeting were read, corrected and approved. Rev. David Steele was chosen Moderator, and Matthew Mitchel, Clerk.
Unfinished business was called up, when Messrs. Steele and Peoples stated that the days of fasting and thanksgiving had been observed in their bounds, and that they had supplied with ordinances according to the directions of Presbytery. Mr. Fulton, probationer, stated, that through indisposition he had been unable to fulfil his appointments; but had preached as he was able in the Miami congregation, in the absence of their pastor.
Papers were laid on the table, and No. 1, being a remonstrance from Brushcreek congregation against the removal of their pastor, was taken up and read. While this paper was under consideration, the court adjourned to meet at the same place to-morrow at 10 o’clock A.M. Closed with prayer.
SAME PLACE, March 15th, 10 o’clock, A.M.
Presbytery met and opened with prayer. Members all present except Joseph Keys, who soon appeared. John Tweed, ruling elder, was invited to a seat as a consultative member, and accepted the invitation.
The consideration of the Brushcreek remonstrance was resumed; and after hearing both parties, the pastoral relation between the Rev. David Steele and the congregation of Brush-creek was dissolved, and Rev. J.J. Peoples directed to preach a day in said congregation, and announce to them the action of Presbytery in this case. Mr. Peoples was further directed to attend to the installation of Rev. D. Steele, in Hill Prairie congregation, as soon as convenient.
Messrs. Joseph Akin and M. Mitchel were, on motion, appointed by the Moderator to state to the Brushcreek congregation the reasons why Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relation between them and their minister, and express the sympathies of the court with them in their destitute situation.
Paper No. 2 was taken up and read. It asks the Presbytery whether it be consistent with our dissent from the government of the United States, for ministers of the gospel in the Reformed Presbyterian Church to receive license from the State to solemnize marriage.
Mr. William R. Linn, ruling elder, was admitted to a seat as a consultative member of court.
To the foregoing question the following answer was given: “This court judge that it is not inconsistent with our dissent, inasmuch as the minister is not required to be a citizen; whereas, the civil magistrate cannot perform the same official act without recognizing the government.”
On motion, Resolved, That Presbytery hold next stated meeting at Walnut Ridge, Indiana, on the last Monday of May, 1860.
Rev. J.J. Peoples, Joseph Akin and M. Mitchel were appointed a committee to prepare causes of fasting and thanksgiving, and have them published with the minutes.
D. Steele was appointed stated supply in Brushcreek and Hill Prairie congregations—dividing his time as suits his convenience and for the interest of the Church. Mr. J.F. Fulton was directed to supply individuals and societies, Walnut Ridge and Brushcreek congregations, and wherever else God in his providence may open a door. Mr. Peoples was appointed to supply in Brushcreek congregation and at Walnut Ridge, discretionary, by agreement with Mr. Fulton. Adjourned by prayer, to meet as above.
DAVID STEELE, Moderator.
MATT. MITCHEL, Clerk.
CAUSES OF FASTING.
1. Among ourselves and others there is a growing indisposition to attend the fellowship meetings of God’s people.
2. We give evidence, further, of having fallen from our first love, in the visible decline of that brotherly love which influences to esteem others better than ourselves.
3. Neither are we conscientious and consistent in carrying out our testimony against civil and ecclesiastical corruptions, in the matter of occasional hearing and dissent from the United States Government.
4. There is a manifest inclination on the part of different denominations around us, to drop former scriptural attainments, in order to form union, contrary to the principles and practice of our covenant fathers. Witness the “compromise act,” on what is called “Christian forbearance” in the United Presbyterian Church, together with the unscriptural sentiments on Psalmody, beginning to be openly broached among former covenanted brethren.
5. This nation did, at its first formation as a civil sovereignty, reject the word of God as a rule; and as a necessary consequence flowing from the corrupt fountain of organic law, the Administration has opened the territories for the increase of slavery, polygamy is tolerated, and the opening of the African slave trade is openly advocated.
For these and other causes the Presbytery appoint the last Thursday of February, 1860, to be observed as a season of fasting, humiliation and prayer.
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
1. In the great goodness of our covenant God, the preaching of the gospel is still enjoyed amongst us in some measure of purity, and we trust in power.
2. Calls are made upon the Presbytery from different places for the dispensation of gospel ordinances, and there is some measure of ability to answer them.
3. In the goodness of God, we, as a witnessing body, have been continued and honored judicially to contend for the rights and assert the claims of the Mediator over the nations, and we are in expectation of ministerial increase.
4. Notwithstanding the disposition on the part of other bodies to lower the standard of truth for. the sake of union, God in his overruling providence has so ordered it, that they have theoretically asserted the claims of Messiah as Prince of the kings of the earth.
5. In the face of abounding wickedness, our gracious God makes peace in all our borders, causes the earth to yield her increase, and stays the hand of the angel of desolation and death—giving time for repentance and reformation.
6. We would also thank God and take courage in view of the fact, that some have been raised up to “protest” against the injury done to covenanted truth, by compromising it for the sake of visible union—to plead for “historical testimony,” and condemn the popular but unscriptural practice of “occasional hearing.”
The last Thursday of November, 1859, was appointed as a day of thanksgiving.