MINUTES OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY.
NORTH UNION, BUTLER CO., PENNA.
May 25th, 1881, 10 o’clock A.M.
Presbytery met according to adjournment and was constituted by prayer. The members present were Messrs. John McAuley, David Steele and J.F. Fulton, Ministers; with Messrs. J. Anderson, Robert Clyde and James Campbell, ruling elders. McAuley was chosen Moderator and Campbell Clerk. D.A. Renfrew, ruling elder, was asked to sit as consultative member, and took a seat accordingly. Mr. Fulton gave a reason for his absence from recent meetings of Presbytery, which was sustained. Minutes of last meeting were read and approved. George Alexander, ruling eider, appeared and took his seat. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that the days of Fasting and Thanksgiving had been observed in all the congregations under the care of Presbytery. At a suggestion of a member of court, the following preamble and resolution were adopted:
WHEREAS, An aged disciple of Christ, not in this fellowship, has made a generous donation to be used by this Presbytery for the express purpose of educating young men for the ministry, under its care; and for publishing books for the defense and propagation of the Reformation cause, owned by it; therefore
Resolved, That the expense of publishing the Auchensaugh Bond be paid from the interest on this donation, and that the proceeds of sale be awarded to D. Steele for his labor and service in publishing it.
The Publication Committee made their report; approved, and the committee dismissed. A recess was taken, to meet at 1 o’clock P.M.
Same place, 1 o’clock P.M.
Presbytery came to order; members all present. A verbal alteration was made in the “Covenant Bond,” viz.: on page 129, 5th line from the bottom, after the word “detestation,” insert, “as had been previously done.” Papers called for. Petitions for supplies were received from North Union, Iowa, Allegheny and Rochester, all of which were granted; to be filled by mutual agreement of ministers and people. Report of Presbytery’s Commission received, read, and approved; and is as follows:
To the Reformed Presbytery, to meet at the house of James Anderson, Butler Co., May 25th, at 9 o’clock A.M.—Your Commission respectfully report that they have held a meeting in the bounds of the Allegheny congregation, and attended to some matters of discipline and order therein, and adjourned to this place; where with great satisfaction, after giving some direction on points of order, we found the members acting together in harmony one with another.
JOHN MCAULEY, Chairman.
JAMES CAMPBELL, Clerk.
The Moderator appointed Messrs. Steele and Fulton, ministers, and Alexander, elder, a committee on the Signs of the Times, to report during the present session of Presbytery.
The following sums were appropriated from Presbytery’s fund, viz.: $60.00 to D. Steele for education services, teaching student: $10.00 to student Clyde for instruction in Hebrew: and $20.00 each, to Messrs. McAuley and Fulton.
Resolved, That Friday, 27th inst. be observed as a day of fasting and humiliation, preparatory to the Act of Covenant Renovation on the next day; and that on first Sabbath the Lord’s Supper be dispensed; and on Monday next the student deliver a discourse, as a specimen of proficiency in his studies.
Presbytery took a recess of one hour, to enable the committee on Signs of the Times to report
Recess having expired, Presbytery came to order.—The committee on Signs of the Times reported as follows:
As preparatory to a permanent moral duty, and as a help to its profitable observance, your committee submit the following
CAUSES OF FASTING.
1. At the present time there appears to be an increasing number of those fools who say in their hearts—“No God.” Throughout Christendom speculative atheists are now known by the proud philosophic name of Agnostics. They will believe in objects of sense only; and the conduct of many professing Christians confirms them in their awful delusion. Neither personal nor family worship of God is practiced, or is required as an indispensable condition of membership in most denominations of professing Christians.—Predicted, 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
2. The light of the gospel is obscured by keeping back from the view of sinners part of Jehovah’s character. He is not exhibited as “a just God and a Saviour.” Many ministers fail to show how God is “just in justifying the ungodly.” The spirituality of worship is also obscured by human inventions, either added to divine appointments, or adopted as their substitutes. A species of refined idolatry is insensibly but extensively assimilating most Protestant bodies to apostate Rome.
3. The holy name of God is awfully profaned by common swearing among all ranks in society; and the Bible is likewise desecrated when idolatrously abused in civil courts in connection with an oath; as also when it is carried in processions of Freemasons or other antichristian fellowships.
4. The desecration of the Lord’s day is also prevalent, even among professors of Christianity, by idleness, parties of pleasure, reading secular newspapers issued on that holy day, and by railway travel and traffic, thus “bringing more wrath upon the land.”
5. Christian parents generally neglect the catechizing of their children on the Sabbath, vainly supposing they can transfer this duty and the responsibility to strangers. They do sinfully dismiss them on that day from under their own eyes, causing them to come in habitual contact with bad companions, contrary to the law of God: Exod. 20:10.
6. Parental discipline is either neglected, or exercised under the influence of sinful anger, not as a divine ordinance; and the consequence is filial disobedience, resulting in the impairing or extinction of natural affection.
7. Violations of the sixth commandment are manifestly on the increase all over the land, by suicides, murders, homicides, paricides, fratricides, infanticides, foeticides; and these awful crimes are often perpetrated with such circumstances of horrid cruelty as to cry to heaven for vengeance.
8. Many or most of these crimes are preceded by the influence of the lusts of the flesh in drunkenness and debauchery, and are committed in drinking saloons and dens of infamy, frequented by those lost to all sense of either religion or virtue, posting headlong to eternal destruction.
9. Adultery, fornication, unlawful marriage and divorce, are still prevalent, and are much fostered by theatrical exhibitions and obscene pictures and novels.
10. Dishonesty in trade, commerce, and contracts of all kinds are so common that they pass with impunity; and thefts, burglaries, and arson are daily reported by the press.
11. Lying, breach of promise, slander, and perjury characterize general society; and like many of the crimes previously mentioned, are found in the modern churches.
12. All these sins and crimes, we believe, are chargeable to the unfaithfulness, in the first place, of those who occupy the position of administrators of God’s law in the Family, the Church, and the State. The sacredness of promises and the solemnity of oaths and vows, these bonds by which the Lord binds society, are often disregarded by persons in every relation; and we humbly confess that we dare not plead exemption from complicity in diverse of the catalogue of sins here enumerated. For these let us mourn.
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
Our covenant God, in the midst of deserved wrath, still remembers mercy, as is apparent.
1. In sparing and prolonging the lives of the ministers and ruling elders belonging to the Presbytery, and thus the agency is continued by which a public testimony is still exhibited for truth and maintained against error—a deluge of old ones in new forms.
2. Although scattered upon the walls of our Zion, and therefore incapable of dispensing or enjoying stated gospel ordinances, by divine favor most of our people have access to word and sacrament in some measure of regularity; and through the circulation of the Original Covenanter all are enabled to understand our position in relation to surrounding communities.
3. King Jesus, with his bow and his crown still goes forth among rebellious nations “conquering and to conquer.” Swift messengers are by him dispatched over oceans and continents, proclaiming the everlasting gospel, so that by multiplied translations of the Lively Oracles almost all people may hear and learn in their own tongues wherein they were born the wonderful works of God.
4. Among the nations of Christendom there seems to be a growing disposition to submit their grievances to arbitration instead of the arbitrament of the sword; and oil, how desirable this mode of settlement to all friends to the Prince of Peace!
5. The results of skillful engineering, as they obviously tend to the material progress of commerce and civilization, will also doubtless be made to extend the kingdom of grace.
6. In this land, and likewise among European nations, the attention of learned and godly men has been recently awakened to the beneficent design of the Sabbatical institution. And although their views are chiefly directed to its favorable influence on the bodies of man and beast, we may indulge a pleasing hope that their researches will lead them on to discover its moral nature, and its connection with man’s eternal destiny.
7. During the past year the land in which we dwell has been rendered very productive—crowned with the divine blessing, and abundantly rewarding the labors of the husbandman, for the sustenance of man and beast.
8. As we have been mercifully free from the judgments of famine and sword, so also from the noisome pestilence, cholera, yellow fever, or any other of the Lord’s wasting plagues.
For these and other temporal and spiritual blessings bestowed upon us during the past year by our covenant God, let us enter his gates with praise, and his courts with thanksgiving. Adopted.
The 4th Thursday of November next was appointed for thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of February, 1882, for fasting.
At the request of Mr. W.M. Shanks, a Licentiate of the “Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America,” a document on “Catholic Union” was laid before Presbytery. The Court, while approving the object of the document, cannot approve some of its sentiments, but, on the contrary, testify against all attempts to unite error and truth in the same fellowship. The above was on motion adopted. Elder Alexander asked leave of absence from and after next Monday A.M. His request was granted. Presbytery adjourned to meet in this place on Monday, the 30th inst., at 9 o’clock A.M. Closed with prayer.
Same place, Monday, May 30th, 9 o’clock A.M.
Presbytery met according to adjournment, and constituted with prayer; all the members present.
On motion the Clerk was directed to incorporate with the Minutes the order observed by Presbytery in regard to the duties of the last three days.
The following order was observed:
On Friday, the day of Fasting, the public service was commenced by Mr. Fulton with prayer and explaining Psalm 51:1-7. Mr. McAuley followed with prayer and reading Nehemiah 9, of which he gave a general exposition appropriate to the occasion. There was then an intermission of fifteen minutes.
The congregation having again assembled, D. Steele continued the service. Psalm 130 was sung, and he led in prayer; after which he read the third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, delivering a discourse on the doctrine of justification, founded on the twenty fourth verse. Mr. Fulton then read the “Confession of Public Sins,” when Mr. Steele led in prayer, and dismissed the congregation with the benediction.
On Saturday public worship was commenced by Mr. McAuley leading in prayer and explaining Psalm 105:5-8, which was sung by the congregation. Mr. Fulton led in prayer and was followed by D. Steele, who preached from Psalm 50:5. After prayer Mr. Fulton read the Covenants, National and Solemn League, with the annotations made at Auchensaugh. Mr. Steele, after a short exhortation, then read the “Act of Adherence to our Covenants.” At the end of each article the people standing held up their right hands, and at the close of the document all said—Amen.
After a suitable advice by Mr. McAuley, the Bond was signed by all the jurants: First, the Ministers; Second, the Ruling Elders; Third, the Members.
Some brethren on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean having desired instruction as to how they might cooperate with us in covenant renovation, this Court deems it sufficient that those brethren, after a day of fasting, subscribe their names to a copy of the ratified Bond.
A committee, consisting of Steele, elders Clyde and Campbell, were appointed to revise and publish the “Rules of Society,” as soon as possible.
Mr. Fulton was authorized to comply with the petition of the brethren in Iowa, and to perform all needful ministerial functions desired by that society.
At this stage of proceedings the Court took a recess till after the close of public worship, during which the student delivered a discourse on the Headship of Christ. The Moderator then called the members to order. Remarks were then made by members on the discourse and the manner of delivery. The student had also been previously examined on his knowledge of the languages. After mature deliberation he was recommended to prosecute his studies; and allowed to exercise his gifts publicly under the superintendence of his teacher. Steele, Alexander, and Campbell were appointed a commission till next meeting of Presbytery.
The Presbytery then finally adjourned to meet at the call of the Moderator, and closed with prayer.
JOHN MCAULEY, Moderator.
JAS. CAMPBELL, Clerk.