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CIRCULAR No. 3.   A Concise History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church from the Middle of the Sixteenth Century and of the Reformed Presbytery from 1840 Till the Present Time.


CIRCULAR No. 3. A Concise History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church from the Middle of the Sixteenth Century and of the Reformed Presbytery from 1840 Till the Present Time.

James Dodson

Intended for those who need, and especially for those who desire such information.



David Steele, Sr.,

Pastor Emeritus, and for fifty-six years minister in said church.

Lectori erudit operfacile notum erit me harum rerum superficiem sola, vei quasi gregis vestigia tetigisse.

Price, Ten Cents.

2732 Brown Street, Philadelphia.



Circular No.3.


“Buy the truth, and sell it not.”—SOLOMON. “Thy word is truth.”—JOHN. “We can do nothing against the truth.” . . . “The truth is in Jesus.”—PAUL.

“Can two walk together except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3. This question, implying a strong negative, is amplified and still more emphasized in 2 Corinthians 6:15. No, neither God and man, nor man and man can walk together except they be agreed. Agreed in what? Evidently in divine truth and order, doctrine and duty, principle and practice.

But Enoch walked with God because they were agreed. So did Noah and others innumerable.

In the same order men have walked together. David and Jonathan made a covenant—an agreement, and walked together at the peril of their lives. Their souls were knit together in mutual love; “love without dissimulation”; “love strong as death”; “love wonderful, passing the love of women.”

David and Ahithophel also walked together. They “took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company”—but only while agreed. So Christ walked with Judas. Hence it is manifest that agreement in divine truth and order has ever been the bond of fellowship with God and man; whether under the Patriarchal, Mosaic or Christian economy.

Impressed with the importance of this order learned and godly men in past ages have labored in constructing forms of sound words, creeds, confessions, covenants, leagues, etc., to defend, propagate and exemplify the only true religion in the world.

Among the nations of Christendom, Scotland stands preeminent in is work of faith and labor of low to God and man. Her National Covenant and its obvious sequel, the Solemn League and Covenant, are memorial columns bearing inscriptions, perhaps more important to mankind than those of the Moabite stone, or the hieroglyphics of Egypt. Often obscured by defection and apostasy, those inscriptions are not obliterated. They continue to exhibit the divine institution and mutually independent functions of Church and State—a “Gospel Ministry and Scriptural Magistracy”; their coordination and subservience to the family, as the primary organism in human society. They do also prescribe the duty of all ranks; of the king in his palace and of the humblest citizen in his cottage, to keep up the worship of God, each “in his person and family.[1] They moreover contain a Standing Testimony against the heresies, tyrannies and cruelties of Diocesan and Erastian Prelacy; whether misnamed Catholicism[2] or Episcopacy.[3]

The reformation of the British Isles in the middle of the seventeenth century “elicited the admiration of Europe,” but it was of short continuance—a “reformation on paper.” Like Israel of old, the people’s “heart was not right with God, neither were they stedfast in His covenant.”

“In deep dissimulation and studied hypocrisy,” a majority of the Scottish General Assembly’s Commission, corrupted by the politics of the state, usurped the power of the assembly itself, and passed resolutions “subversive of the Covenanted Reformation.” Against this act of perfidy the minority entered their solemn protest.[4] The Resolutioners accepted conscience-debauching Indulgences from the throne as “his Majesty’s surprising favor.” They added fuel to the flame of persecution kindled against their faithful brethren, the Protestors, who supplied the victims for slaughter. The Rev. James Guthrie on the part of the Church, and the noble Marquis of Argyle, on the part of the State were first selected for sacrifice. They became “Scotland’s proto-martyrs for Christ’s Crown and Covenant.” “The Covenants! the Covenants! shall yet be Scotland’s reviving,” was the prophetic utterance of Guthrie from the scaffold. “God hath tied these nations with a bond which all the kingdoms of the world shall not be able to untie,” was the patriotic response of Argyle. These were followed by a “cloud of witnesses” for the same cause; of whom the last but not the least, in the bloom of youthful manhood, was “the illustrious James Renwick.” Many were slain in the open fields without formality of law, like John Brown, of Priesthill; some were drowned in the rising tide, as those women in Solway Firth; others were driven into exile. Then followed a revolution when the line of the perjured monarch, Charles II, and the whole bloody House of Stuart were forever banished from the throne of Britain.[5]

The Revolution of 1688-89 seemed to have buried the Covenants; when lo! “A wasted remnant that had escaped the edge of the sword,” renewed them publicly at Auchensaugh, in 1712. Preserving the text of the documents entire, they were careful to explain their true meaning by marginal supplements in opposition to their perversion by the Resolutioners.[6] They were ably vindicated and more fully explained in the Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland, in 1761, in which “Treachery in Covenant” is detected and faithfully exposed.[7]

These two documents, the Auchensaugh Renovation and the Scottish Testimony, were the principal means of preserving unity and uniformity among Covenanters in all lands of their nativity or adoption for a time. But tares will be among the wheat until the harvest. Three ministers, Messrs. Cuthbertson, Lynn and Dobbin, who had emigrated from the British Isles to North America, in conjunction with some Seceders, formed a union in 1782, called the Associate Reformed Church. The Reformed Presbytery of Scotland animadverted on their Basis of Union with becoming severity, as a “jumble of principles without definite application.”

In the mother church of Scotland itself, toward the close of the last century, an agitation arose to remove the Auchensaugh Deed from the Terms of Communion. Rev. Thomas Henderson and others, foreseeing its destructive tendency resisted this innovation and gave faithful warning of danger. Encouraged perhaps by the agitation in Scotland, the Reformed Presbytery in America, shortly after its erection, was the first to remove this landmark, in 1806, from that conspicuous and honored place it had occupied for nearly one hundred years. This innovation did not succeed in Scotland till 1822, when Rev. James Reid separated from the body on that account. He spent a long and laborious ministry, respected by all, and declared on his death-bed that he could not have laid his head on a dying pillow in peace, had he consented to that unfaithful act. As lately as 1837 the late Drs. Dick and Houston, with others, sternly resisted its removal, re-echoing the sentiment of Henderson, that “to assail the Auchensaugh Deed is to assail the Covenants themselves.” Yet these same men concurred with its removal in 1853! Oh! how many good men in times of trial show themselves to be Reubenites—“unstable as water.”

Reformation Principles Exhibited in 1806, disrupted the General Synod in Philadelphia, August 7, 1833. The New Testimony framed in Scotland, (1837-9) and adopted by the Irish Synod, in 1840, divided that body and in 1863 the Scottish Synod.

The parties at the division of 1833 were called Old Lights and New Lights. Each claimed to be the original body and blamed the other for causing the division. The sum of the New Light argument on this point given in their own words is, “There is no relinquishment of any principle for which the martyrs bled and died. We differ not in principle, we differ only in the application of principle.”[8]

While the lamentable innovations, defections and divisions above noticed, were still in progress, similar measures disturbed the harmony of the Old Light General Synod. Prior to the division of 1833, Rev. Robert Lusk and Mr. James Douglas, licentiate, had been suspended for contending against defection. A minority continued these contendings during nearly seven years. These were carried on by legal and peaceful means, in social intercourse, in the pulpit, through our only periodical and especially in General Synod. The fact of these contendings having been publicly denied,[9] a few instances well authenticated and mostly on public record require notice.

In 1834 a Memorial came before Synod against “Occasional Hearing,” as the initial step towards apostasy. It met with no favor. A young minister “hoped this matter would be left to his session.” And so it was. The Memorial was returned, and every one virtually licensed to “gad about to change his way” at pleasure. Of course this “inconsistent” and demoralizing practice increased.

In 1836 a Memorial and Petition came up against confederacies with the “known enemies of truth and godliness,” and asking Synod to give the Church’s Testimony “more point and publicity against slavery.” The only action on this paper was to “transfer Synod’s patronage from the Colonization Society to the Cause of Abolition.”[10] Then those confederacies were also virtually licensed.

In 1837, when General Synod did not meet,[11] the New York Presbytery passed resolutions favoring popular measures, and had them circulated through our periodical. The Ohio Presbytery passed counter-resolutions and sent them for publication through the same medium. These were suppressed. Thus honest people were blindfolded and misled.

In 1838 a Petition was resented, asking that the term Testimony be restored to its former ecclesiastical use,[12] and that cases of maladministration be rectified. No action was taken on this paper. A member was directed merely to answer the “LETTER.” So the petition was deceptively called in the Minutes. At that meeting a licentiate and some adherents publicly declined the authority of Synod, amid tumult and personal violence too disgraceful for detail. They had previously entered into a Safety League.[13]

When innovations are prevalent declensions and tyranny usually go together. Members were suspended for “contempt of ordinances,” when pleading for the purity of ordinances, fouled by their shepherds’ feet. An example is here given. When modern facilities for travel were unknown, a member brought an appeal from his session at much expense all the way up to General Synod. When his case was taken up he laid some pamphlets on Synod’s table, and merely said he would submit to the decision of the court, according to the principles taught in those pamphlets, published years before by some of his present judges. The pamphlets were not examined. His appeal was not sustained. He got no redress. Of course he walked no more with us.

A minister of the minority was arraigned before his presbytery on libel. A young man whom he had educated taught the illiterate accuser to frame his libel in legal form, containing some half dozen counts. On trial some of these were judged “irrelevant,” and the rest “not proved.” The accused was honorably acquitted, the moderator even commending his equanimity during the ordeal. Failing in their object before presbytery (for there was a conspiracy)[14] they confidently predicted that “he would have his neck cut off at next Synod.”

In 1840 a paper containing the principal causes of dissension for seven years, in the form of preamble and resolutions was read in open court, laid on the table and action called for. Instantly a member moved “that the paper be laid on the table”—while lying on the table! The mover, afterward publicly acknowledged that he knew his “motion was not strictly in order.”[15] The disorderly motion passed without discussion by an overwhelming majority. In quick succession another member moved to abolish the Subordinate Synods, and the delegation form of General Synod. This also passed without discussion by a similar majority. Every delegate who voted for this motion became censurable by his presbytery for breach of trust in violating conventional law. Then we were left without any Synod in legal existence.[16]

Five delegates, some of whom had never before met, or corresponded, after some time were brought together from their places of lodging on opposite sides of the Allegheny River for consultation. After conference they were unanimous that all legal means had proved ineffectual to arrest our perpetual backsliding; present duty required the organization of an independent presbytery, to defend and preserve our Covenanted Reformation. Two ministers and three elders accordingly constituted the


At that moment neither of the two ministers knew whether one family would adhere to the new presbytery. They went out not knowing whither they went.

The report of these proceeding was soon spread abroad. Motives and actions were misrepresented, and the character of the two ministers abundantly calumniated. The Reformed Presbyterian, a periodical which the Rev. James Blackwood called “That shackling thing”—alternately orthodox and heterodox, was the first to make the attack. Next came into line of battle the American Reformed Covenanter, which Rev. Thomas Sproull tersely characterized as “a Rabshakeh pamphlet, without a shadow of literature.” Afterward some desultory shots came over the Atlantic from three magazines. One shell loaded with canister was discharged from a mortar in Edinburgh, which merits a passing notice because of its erratic course. The Reformed Presbyterian Magazine spread the startling news that a certain presbytery in America had recently “excommunicated all the ministers of the R.P. Church.” None but some persons without a shadow of literature and as little discretion would attempt an action so presumptuous and preposterous. Substantially the same false accusation had been brought against “the amiable Renwick,” shortly before his martyrdom.

After some time the Reformed Presbytery, always on the defensive, and amid many difficulties, originated the Contending Witness, which in the opinion of some replied to all those assailants with effect.[17] Time as usual moderated the asperities of feeling, and controversy gradually ceased.

Since its erection in Allegheny Town (now Allegheny City), Pa., June 24th, 1840, the Reformed Presbytery has organized seven congregations, besides a number of preaching stations. At times its adherents might be found scattered from the Eastern base of the Rocky Mountains through the State and Canada to the British Isles. It has comprised seven ministers, but it is at present reduced to the original number by the death of three—faithful till death—and the defection of two.

Five ministers of different denominations and at different times, in person, by letter, or through intermediate friends, have made overtures toward joining our fellowship; but for sufficient reasons these have been respectfully declined. A sixth gained entrance, and perhaps none of the five could have done more injury to the cause which he professed, as preacher, pastor, or presbyter. Incompetency[18] was the proximate cause of much disorder: stolid obstinacy and cunning duplicity were afterward revealed. It became known too late that at the time of his entrance he was equally ready to be a Seceder, a Reformed Presbyterian, or Original Covenanter, provided he be received on a single condition—as a minister. All concerned were anxious to have the Presbytery re-organized, because a single minister was unable to supply the constant demands for his labor, and he was constantly subjected to reproach as not desiring ministerial assistance; “Mr. S[teele] does not desire ministerial help; he would rather be Pope himself.” etc.

The appearance of a blind preacher[19] elicited curiosity. He had committed to memory some “good gospel sermons, composed by educated ministers.” He was invited to make proof of his ministry. He delivered a discourse with sufficient confidence, on which the only criticism, now remembered, was: “Pretty well, only a little too fierce for a beginning.” His preaching at first made quite a favorable impression. He was “corrupted by flatteries.” One indiscreet man said: “It would be well if some other ministers had their eyes put out.” Another said: “If it were possible, I would give him one of my own eyes.” These same men were among the first to forsake his ministry, and the latter he got “bound over to keep the peace.” By repetition the good gospel sermons lost their relish among the people; he was obliged to draw on his own resources. Knowing little of the distinctive principles, usages, or history of Covenanters, except their dissent from immoral civil governments, he made this the staple of much of his preaching. He appeared determined to excel all competitors as a faithful testimony-bearer. The severity and vehemence of his language stumbled our people and repelled others. A sample of his manner in bearing testimony may be in place here. A member wrote down the following words uttered by him from the pulpit: “Every United States marshal is a blood-hound of hell; every United States officer bears the mark of the beast in his forehead; and every voter bears the mark in his right hand.” This kind of testimony-bearing his brethren could not approve. Those who loved the cause and respected his office dealt with him in private, advising him to moderate the asperity of his language. He commonly seemed to accept such admonitions with meekness and in silence; but on the next Sabbath, when he entered the pulpit, without warning any one he let his friendly monitor and the audience know what he thought of their impertinence. In the language of another, he would not “permit the pew to dictate to the pulpit.” A judicious elder who was not of his pastoral charge, failing in his friendly interviews with the minister in private, brought a complaint, in 1859, to Presbytery against his intemperate language and unedifying repetition. After an interlocutory the elder withdrew his paper before Presbytery met. On returning home the elder’s wife asked him why he withdrew his paper. He answered: “I did it on his own words.” The members of his pastoral charge, both elders and others, many times dealt with him in private as the aforesaid elder had done, and with similar results. In 1867 he absented himself from Presbytery, and sent a letter assigning the only reason of his absence the disappointment he met with at the previous meeting. This seemed to his brethren a very strong reason why he should have been present. At next meeting, in 1868, when asked his reason of absence last year, he assigned not only a different, but a contradictory reason. He did prevaricate. This was moral obliquity; and he was admonished to be more careful in assigning reasons of absence in future. Could any court do less?

Before Presbytery entered upon public business at this time his brethren became apprised that a petition for disjunction was ready for presentation. His people enforced their petition by stating that they considered his language and conduct in the pulpit were a profanation of the Sabbath and a disgrace to the office of the ministry. His brethren persuaded the people to change their petition into a complaint, promising to tender an admonition and require a promise of amendment. With much reluctance the people complied with this counsel. He was accordingly admonished and his promise given. He seemed meekly to submit and almost in silence, as had been his manner when many times privately admonished. As private admonition tended only to irritate, those two public admonitions tended to exasperate.[20] For scarcely had the members returned to their homes after the adjournment of Presbytery, and resumed their accustomed occupations, when one of them received a letter from a member of Miami congregation containing the surprising news following: “Mr. P[eoples] has broken his promise already. Last Sabbath he broke out worse than ever. He railed from the pulpit on Mr. S[teele], naming him out, and denounced him as his enemy. He then declared the Presbytery no longer a witnessing body, and said they were doing all in their power to stop the mouth of faithful witnesses”—of course by the two admonitions lately tendered, and apparently accepted with the usual meek submission. Any one may discern here incorrigible obstinacy, coupled with duplicity. He had now commenced railing against the government of his Presbytery in connection with that of his country as the only mode of faithful testimony-bearing. A young man, son to one of his elders, passionately declared, “I would rather die than be compelled to attend such preaching.”

Scarcely less surprising was the discovery or the source whence the information came that Mr. P. had been privately circulating libelous matter against his brethren. The late Dr. [John] Cunningham, perceiving the gross disorder, was the first to communicate this intelligence. He wrote that he had received a letter from Mr. P. “charging his brethren in the ministry with unfaithfulness.” To which the Dr. merely replied that “no doubt those brethren were capable of defending themselves.” The Dr. said also in his letter that when in Philadelphia, in the year 1866, and invited to a seat in Presbytery, he distinctly remembered that there was “no division; all the proceedings were harmonious.”

The incapacity of Mr. P. as a presbyter was more conspicuous, if possible, than as a preacher or pastor. When in turn occupying the moderator’s chair he never gave one direction on a point of order. On the floor he never framed and offered a motion of his own. He never asked a dissent or protest to be recorded. He never prepared a paragraph for incorporation in the minutes. But does not the contrary seem to appear on the minutes of 1866? Indeed, no. Mr. P. was appointed a committee of one to report a suitable reply to the fraternal greetings of covenant brethren brought from Scotland and England by Dr. Cunningham at that meeting. Did he perform that duty? No; he neither dictated one word nor suggested one idea in that reply. He seemed to cordially join in the adoption of the report, and readily assumed the credit of authorship by having his name subscribed. Did any of his brethren commit an offence in abasing himself that Mr. P. might be exalted? If so, similar offences had been committed before and all responsibilities cheerfully assumed.

When Presbytery next met, in 1869, Mr. P. was again absent. This time he feigned ill health as the hindrance.[21] This is the third deceitful reason of absence assigned by him. The true reason why he absented himself from this meeting was that he most probably knew his people would have a libel before the court to which he must answer if he appeared. A regular libel was laid before the court. Mr. P. was then suspended from the exercise of that office which he had so often disgraced, not only on the counts contained in the libel, but also upon the grounds already recited, well known to the Presbytery. A member was appointed to announce this action to the congregation, and in addition to declare the pulpit vacant in accordance with their petition for disjunction[22] the preceding year, from which they had been persuaded reluctantly to recede. If Presbytery erred in this case it was by too much leniency and too long forbearance with incompetency, disorder, obstinacy and duplicity.

A young man, partly brought up and educated amongst us for the ministry, rashly sought and obtained interviews with the contumacious offender contrary to inspired and plain directions in such case. He heard this story of his wrongs; believed him; sympathized with him; considered him “a better man than those who suspended him,” and determined to have his wrongs redressed or “shiver the Presbytery.” This young man being moderator of Presbytery in 1884, and as yet inexperienced in points of order, but self-confident, among other things uttered disorderly from the chair, said, “There are as many on our side as on the other.” This language was ominous of some intrigue. It was the first time that sides—a divisive course—had been openly hinted in forty years. Moreover, after the final vote for adjournment, the young moderator attempted to make a speech. An older member in few words stopped the disorder and repressed the youth’s ardor as premature.[23] These two were members of the Commission for the current year. Owing to the absence of two members, the aforesaid two men were a majority of the Commission. The Commission met and held its sessions in the house of the contumacious offender. There the plot was fully matured. Shortly after it was revealed in open Presbytery, when, as with the force and disorder of a cyclone, the plot was dissipated, and the plotters emerged from the confusion, contumacious separatists. Hence the ministers of the Reformed Presbytery are at present reduced to the original number, two.

Ever since the year 1712 our ministers have used this short argument, “To assail the Auchensaugh Deed is to assail the Covenants themselves.” In the soundness of this argument all intelligent Covenanters have acquiesced. The Resolutioners’ successors never owned the Auchensaugh Deed, but always with determination opposed it. Those ministers among Covenanters who sometimes urged the claims of Crawford John to equal prominence with the Auchensaugh Renovation were really opposed to both. They were Resolutioners in disguise, and generally in time descended to the same position or to a lower level. The men of 1761, who first incorporated the Auchensaugh Deed in the Terms of Communion, understood, as well as any since their time, the impropriety of incorporating in such an abstract document an indefinite succession of renovations. They knew the Auchensaugh Deed to be faithful, and assigned it a permanent place with the Covenants themselves.

All the R.P. Synods in the world have now removed that ancient landmark from the conditions of fellowship. But if the brief argument above be sound, they have relinquished the Covenants themselves.

But was not the transaction in Pittsburgh (1871) a renovation of the Covenants? No, nor could it properly be called “treachery in covenant.” The Covenants were expressly excluded from their Bond. One minister said, “The Bond has all we want”; another, “It is in advance of the Covenants”; a third, “We have no more to do with the British Covenants than with a covenant of Germany”; and a fourth, “Let them (Covenants) be buried with the body of Moses in the land of Moab.” Is any one so credulous as to believe that those speakers and their associates were engaged in renewing the Covenants? Yet hundreds of pious people either believe this or are violating the Covenants by “giving themselves over to a detestable neutrality and indifferency in this cause, which so much concerns the glory of God and the welfare of man.”

Let us often think of the noble utterances of Scotland’s protomartyrs in the last persecution. Their example may tend to revive our slumbering sense of covenant obligation.

The question whether the Reformed Presbytery has been in any measure instrumental within the past forty-six years in defending and preserving our Covenanted Reformation in its scriptural and historical integrity may be confidently and cheerfully referred to the infallible Judge, from whose righteousness decision lies no appeal.

Most of the following proverbs, aphorisms, etc., ancient and modern, original or selected, may be deduced from the foregoing Extracts of History.

“A union without truth is a conspiracy against the truth”—in the Church.

“A toleration of all religions is the cut-throat of the true religion”—in the State.

“The State is as truly the ordinance of God as the Church. And the officers in each are at once the ministers of God and the servants of the people.”

“In both the Old and New Testaments the qualifications for office in the State are as plainly prescribed as those for office in the Church.”

“No man can be magistrate and a minister of the Gospel at the same time.”

“Lord Bishops (Prelates) and the Lord’s Bishops are official titles not only different, but incompatible.”

“A woman may be a deaconess in the Church, but she cannot be invested with the power either of order or of jurisdiction.”

Church and State are not antagonistic: “the counsel of peace shall be between them both.”

“There is not a Christian state on earth, nor shall there be until the Millennium.”

“The state is auxiliary to the church, and both to the family.”

“The church of God, next to himself, is the most glorious object in the universe for the contemplation of angels and men.”

“Civil and religious, sacred and civil, religious and secular, clergy and laity, Sabbath and Sunday,” belong to a class of antitheses imported from Rome; anti-scriptural and full of deadly poison.”

“Rights and property emanate from God alone, and for the protection of these human laws are intended.”

“No man is in the present possession and exercise of all his rights.”

“The cry for church union reveals a deep conviction in many hearts that the visible church is one by divine institution.”

“A union of all existing churches, so-called, were that possible, would be the destruction of the Christian church, if that were possible.”

“As long as human hymns are substituted for the Book of Psalms, or joined to it, as a sacrifice of praise to God, so long will a scriptural union be impossible.”

“To substitute the supposed goodness of people for divine truth as a condition of fellowship in the visible church is a dangerous error.”

“Open communion is open confusion; confounds truth and error; abolishes discipline, and is in fact only infidelity in masquerade.”

“The non-professor who can be as good a Christian as some professors, and the professor who attends all churches alike, to display his superior charity, are equally ignorant of man’s chief end.”

“Sober Christians of the thirteenth century considered an organ in the church a profanation; the Puritans of the seventeenth century called it a squeaking abomination; John Knox described it as a kist o’ whistles, fit only to entertain children.”—Galatians 4:1-3. Hebrews 12:18,22; 13:10,15.

“The church is dying of respectability.” If so, perhaps “the church in the house” has failed to sustain her vitality and ceased to be respectable.

Memorial windows and stained glass are adapted to attract the masses and fill the pews, but to admit only “the dim religious light.”

In the time of reformation in Scotland people were wont to say, “the power of godliness was more visible with wooden vessels and golden ministers, than with golden vessels and wooden ministers.”

“The abuse of discipline as an engine of malice and revenge has occasioned its general disuse as a remedial ordinance.”

“In the time of Knox the Church of Scotland deposed from her ministry alike the heretical, the immoral and the incompetent.”

A Reverend Doctor has said, “the Covenanters of Scotland brought persecution upon themselves by their covenants.” In the same way did Abel, Stephen, Antipas and all that illustrious roll of the world’s only true nobles and heroic patriots, “of whom the world was not worthy.”

“It is the cause that makes the martyr,” not his sufferings.

Many degrees of “persecution for righteousness’ sake, for Christ’s sake, for the name of Jesus,” intervene between reproach and actual martyrdom; as deriding, reviling, mocking, scoffing, fining, bonds, scourging, spoiling of goods, etc.

“The tongue that flatters, in change of circumstances, will as readily calumniate.”

“A man may be flattered who could not be cudgeled out of his religion.”

“A man is not crowned for contending earnestly, unless he also strive lawfully.”

“The approved foot-steps of the flock are a practical and safe interpretation of the law.”

“Only the faithful contendings of the martyrs of Jesus demand our approbation and imitation.”

“Order is intended to secure justice; disorder to defeat justice.”

“Anarchy is applied atheism with a back-ground of despair.”

The assumed “proto-plasm” of modern evolutionists is no scientific advance on the “Mundane Egg” of their predecessors in the same kind of impious and irrational speculation.

“Faith is not opposed to reason; it requires and exemplifies the highest exercise of reason.”

Faith will sustain the Christian amid “the wreck of matter and the crush of worlds.”

Τῷ Θεῷ μόνῳ πᾶσα ἡ δόξα εἰς τοῦς αἰῶνας τῶν αὶώνων!


2732 Brown Street, Philadelphia, 1886


[1] The question here is not whether the principles of Covenanters are “too strict and impracticable,” but whether they are “agreeable unto and founded upon the word of God.”

[2] History proves that the Roman apostasy has never been catholic or universal.

[3] The word “elders” (presbyterous) in Acts 20:17, is rendered in verse 28 “overseers” (episcopous)—the same word which in Philippians 1:1, is translated “bishops.” The only Episcopacy of Divine institution is therefore Presbyterianism.

[4] The parties were distinguished at the time (1650), and they may still be distinguished and identified in their respective successors as Resolutioners and Protestors.

[5] Here was exemplified the doctrine of the learned Buchanan, of Rutherford, in his Lex Rex, and of all Covenanters, That a people may lawfully depose their chief magistrate for cause and choose his successor.

[6] “The men of Auchensaugh did not renew the Covenants; they only mangled them.” Org[inal] Sec[ession] Magazine. Such is always the spirit and language of a genuine Resolutioner.

[7] The Resolutioners would be Covenanters too—the only legitimate successors of the Scottish martyrs. Have they not pretended to renew the Covenants repeatedly, both in Scotland and America? But they boldly declare that, “as for the civil part of them it is something with which we neither have nor ever had anything to do.” Can a nation repudiate its just debts? God took away Saul in his wrath, . . . “because he slew the Gibeonites.”

[8] “Thou believest that there is one God . . . The devils also believe.”—You differ not in principle; only in application. The parallel is complete; the reasoning conclusive.

[9] The question was asked, “Why did you not make these things known before you cut loose from Synod?” and by such as knew them well and felt them keenly.

[10] In the year 1828, Synod gave its unanimous patronage to the Colonization Society.

[11] Before the division of 1833, General Synod had erected two subordinate synods, Eastern and Western, the Allegheny Mountains being the dividing line. General Synod itself consisted of delegates in a restricted ratio fixed by the Presbyteries, and met biennially.

[12] Reformation Principles Exhibited changed the concrete into the abstract, confounding the distinction between law and testimony. Ps. 78:5. Is. 8:16,20. Rev. 12:11.

[13] A “Safety League,” a “Renwick Association” are human inventions and necessarily abstract. Presbyterian order forbids and reprobates intrigue, plotting, faction, conspiracy—all “things done in a corner,” as of ruinous tendency.

[14] The conspirators had been instructed from “head-quarters” thus: libel him—withdraw your support—erase your names from the subscription list—starve him out.

[15] Did concern for the honor of our King and the welfare of his loyal subjects prompt him to violate known order?

[16] A pertinent question was afterward publicly asked, “On what principle of Presbyterianism shall Synod next meet as adjourned?”

[17] Paul often illustrates topics by allusions to the athletic contests among the Greeks. Imitating his style, while our polemics were in progress, some neutral observer said: “Mr. S.[teele] doesn’t strike so hard as his opponent, but he hurts worse.” A series of articles from the pen of Rev. R. Lusk on Characteristics of the Witnessing Church, and of Surrounding Communities, will satisfy competent judges that in general literature and history, or as a linguist and expositor of prophecy, he was the peer of any contemporary minister in the R.P. Church.

[18] The question has been asked, “Why did the Presbytery receive an incompetent minister?” Answer: We had no Presbytery at the time, nor was there among us any prelate to perform the functions of a presbytery, in examining, reviewing, rejecting, censuring, or restoring a minister. Even apostolic vigilance did not always prevent such intrusion. Galatians 2:4.

[19] In earlier life he had lost his sight by an explosion of powder when blasting rocks.

[20] The fox is the symbol of cunning. Perhaps in the present case a more appropriate one would be the opossum. In the presence of imminent danger a slight tap with a stick will cause it to feign death, but as soon as the danger is past it resumes its mischievous activity.

[21] An intimate friend and near neighbor has declared, “Mr. P. could have attended if he wished.” Is it credible that before this date “he had boasted of his own adroitness in escaping censure by absenting himself?”

[22] Presbytery knew well that of itself “the suspension of a minister does not dissolve the pastoral relation.”

[23] It is still to be hoped that “he has (not) the impudence of Satan.”