MINUTES OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY.
WALNUT RIDGE, WASHINGTON CO. IND[IANA]. May 28, 1860.
PRESBYTERY met according to adjournment, and was constituted with prayer by the moderator. Members present: Rev. David Steele, Rev. James J. Peoples, and Mr. John Tweed, from Hill Prairie. Rev. D. Steele was continued moderator, and Mr. James F. Fulton chosen clerk.
The minutes of last meeting were read and approved. Days of fasting and thanksgiving appointed at last meeting had been observed, and those who had received appointments to supply reported satisfactorily.
The court having had no report from the committee appointed to express sympathy with the Brush Creek congregation, and none of its members being present, on motion, dismissed said committee.
Rev. J.J. Peoples reported, that owing to sickness in his family, he had been unable to attend to the installation of D. Steele. The appointment was continued.
Papers being called for, a memorial from some members of Miami congregation was laid on the table, and marked No. 1. A petition from Brush Creek congregation, asking for the moderation of a call, and that presbytery take action on the matter contained in the preceding memorial—No. 2. A verbal petition was also presented by Mr. Matthew Brown, that a session be held in this vicinity, to receive some applicants into communion. Rev. J.J. Peoples and J. Tweed were appointed to carry out the object of this petition.
Paper No. 1 was accepted and taken under consideration. It is as follows:
“To the Moderator and other members of the Reformed Presbytery, to meet at Walnut Ridge on the last Monday of May, 1860:
“Your memorialists request you to take into consideration, and give a decision on the bearing of our Testimony upon the civil actions of voting and sitting on juries, as some of our members consider it a privilege and a duty to vote at township elections and sit upon juries before a squire; for, say they, ‘in neither of these cases have you to swear to support the constitution.’ That the Church’s Head may direct you in all your deliberations, is the prayer of your memorialists.
JAS. W. TORRENCE.”
Follows that part of No. 2, in the paper from Brush Creek, hearing on the same subject:
“We would further request the presbytery to take whatever action upon the subject of voting at township elections, and sitting on juries, as in your judgment may be necessary, to prevent the stumbling of brethren or the defiling of weak consciences. Signed by order of the congregation.
While this matter was under consideration, the court, on motion, adjourned to meet here at 2 ½ o’clock, P.M.
SAME PLACE.—Court met agreeably to adjournment, and opened proceedings with prayer. All the members were present. Resumed the consideration of No. 1, and disposed of the matter as follows:
On the memorial from members of Miami congregation—enforced on the attention of presbytery by the petition from Brush Creek—the court determine unanimously, That whereas, the representative and his constituency identify in the eye of both divine and human law; and whereas, the multiplying of oaths, without necessity, is a profanation of the holy name of God, and tends to defile the conscience; and whereas, it is the settled judgment of the Reformed Presbyterian church, that the constitutions of the United States and of the several States are, in some of their provisions, contrary to the law of God; and whereas, the juror in any civil court is, as a judiciary officer, the creature of the constitution; therefore, Resolved, That it is both unlawful and inconsistent in any member of this church to administer, or concur in administering any of the aforesaid constitutions, by taking an oath of allegiance, acting as a juror, or voting for any candidate to administer the aforesaid instruments, in the legislative, judiciary or executive departments; and where a power to dispense with the provisions of law is usurped by the administrator of an oath, as an inducement to co-operation by the jurant, the guilt of both parties is thereby greatly augmented. Moreover, on examination of the constitution and statutes of Ohio, this presbytery is fully convinced, that he who administers an oath of office is by law required to administer to every candidate elect an oath of allegiance also. The presbytery therefore solemnly charges and affectionately warns all under its inspection, to beware of falling into these snares—to watch and pray, lest they enter into temptation.
The prayer of Brush Creek congregation for the moderation of a call was granted, and D. Steele directed to attend to this matter at his convenience.
Mr. James F. Fulton was appointed to supply in Adams Co. O. Branch Co. Mich., Macon Co. Ill. and Walnut Ridge, Ind. at his discretion, till next meeting of presbytery.
The last Thursday of November, 1860, and the last Thursday of February, 1861, were appointed as days of thanksgiving and fasting; and Messrs. D. Steele, Joseph Keys and John Tweed were appointed a committee to prepare causes of fasting and thanksgiving, and have them published with the minutes. Presbytery then adjourned to meet in the hounds of Brush Creek congregation, Adams Co. O. on the last Monday of May, 1861.
Closed with prayer.
DAVID STEELE, Moderator.
JAS. F. FULTON, Clerk.
CAUSES OF FASTING.
Viewing the signs of the times in the light of God’s word—the hearing of its precepts and prophecies on the human race—the following thoughts, with others, will be suggested to the mind of the devout and intelligent Christian as matter of humiliation:
1. The world—especially that part of it styled Christendom—is filled with violence as in the days of Noah. The nations of the earth, disregarding the rights and claims of the Lord and his Anointed, continue to “make war with the Lamb,” in alliance, explicit or implied, with the mother of harlots and her daughters. The power of rule is usurped in most nations by the few over the many; and even where the elective franchise is more extended, reigning impiety and immorality influence the masses to choose candidates like themselves, to enact apply and execute iniquitous laws. “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so.”
2. The heaven-daring crime of dueling is growing in popularity, especially in the form of pugilistic contests, betraying the vitiated taste of too many for such disgusting scenes of brutality.
3. Fictitious literature—falsely so called—issues in floods from the pen and from the press of mercenary and unclean spirits, tending to blunt the moral sense of the religious community, and to destroy all relish for anything truthful or serious. “This is a sore evil under the sun.”
4. In many parts of this land God is threatening to increase the national distress, already existing in financial affairs, by cutting short the fruits of the husbandman’s toil.
5. Heretical ecclesiastics, infidel politicians and licentious sophists still combine to stay the infliction of the penalty annexed to the crime of deliberate murder, thereby greatly defiling the land with blood.
6. Some of the churches are still eager to remove the “ancient landmarks which the fathers have set,” in order to effect ecclesiastical unions, thus diffusing a spirit of indifference to divine truth, and opening a door for the spread of error. “A union without truth, is a conspiracy against truth.”
7. The sin and crime of slavery still exists in this land. Besides the support which the National Constitution has always given to this iniquitous system, the churches continue to patronize it—in abject vassalage to state policy; and it is to be specially deplored, that many who once stood on the vantage ground of a covenanted testimony against this and kindred enormities, have fallen so far as to practice and recommend “political agency!” against the sins and evils of the day; while others begin to talk of those who hold their fellow creatures in their unrelenting grasp, as being the “real disciples” of Him who came to preach deliverance to the captives! “What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?”
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
1. That amidst abuse of mercies, and abounding unthankfulness for those which are special or common, our God has still caused the earth to yield her increase, for the sustenance of man and beast.
2. We enjoy the ordinances of divine institution, free from the peril of the sword of persecution.
3. The Mediator of the New Covenant, having all power in heaven and earth, raises up some to resist oppression of body and conscience, in the state and in the church. Instruments (falsely called fanatics, enthusiasts, &c.) are still found to denounce infractions of natural law, and to rebuke the perpetrators of ecclesiastical and political crime.
4. Our own presbyterial organization is continued; and by the good hand of our covenant God, we are enabled still to appear under a judicial banner, to assert the claims of the Lord Anointed to the homage and subjection of all intelligent creatures, and especially his rightful and exclusive claim to be recognized as Prince of the kings of the earth.
5. The application of steam as a motive power, and the electric shock as the harbinger of intelligence—bringing the remotest nations almost together, and opening a highway for the gospel message among all kindreds of the earth, we would hail as the precursors of Immanuel’s millennial advent—the near approach of the time which he has set for favoring Zion. “Arise O God; judge the earth, for thou shalt inherit all nations.”