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James Dodson


[from The Original Covenanter, Vol. ii, No. 5, March 1878, pp. 231-242.]

North Union, house of H. M. Hartzell, Butler Co., Pa., August 26th, 1878, 9 o’clock, A. M. According to adjournment the Reformed Presbytery met and was constituted with prayer by the Moderator. The members present were Messrs. John McAuley, James Fisher Fulton and David Steele, ministers; with Messrs. Robert Clyde, James Campbell and David A. Renfrew, ruling elders.

D. Steele was continued Moderator and J. F. Fulton appointed Clerk. The days of Thanksgiving and Fasting had been observed by all the congregations. Mr. Fulton reported that he had fulfilled his appointment in North Union congregation, and that the call was made upon Rev. John McAuley.

The committee on covenanting reported in past. The report was approved and the committee continued.

A petition from some persons in the cities of Pittsburgh and Allegheny was presented, asking an organization under the care of the Reformed Presbytery. This paper was accompanied by other documents presented to the court by three commissioners, who appeared on behalf of the petitioners.[1] The prayer of the petitioners was granted. A verbal petition for supplies from Rochester, New York, was granted, and any minister of the Presbytery was authorized to supply there when requested by our people.

A rumor having been circulated in North Union congregation and elsewhere, prejudicial to the public cause, and specially injurious to one of the ruling elders; the Session referred the whole matter to Presbytery for advice, investigation, or final action. The court appointed D. Steele, R. Clyde and J. Campbell, a committee of investigation, to receive documentary and oral testimony and report the result.

Court had a recess till 2 o’clock, P. M.

The time of recess having expired the Presbytery was called to order, when the committee on the aforesaid rumor reported as follows:—Your committee find the rumor affecting the character of a member of North Union Session to be, that when he married his present wife,[2] “she had then two living husbands: that during her residence in the state of Kansas, and in the absence of her former husband, she had deserted her own children, cohabited with two or three men, giving birth to a child and left said state in company with a strange man.” Your committee while aware that to prove a negative is often difficult; yet having before them official documents from the Soldiers’ Home at Dayton, Ohio, are satisfied that the lady’s former husband had been dead more than eight months previous to her second marriage: and by both documentary and verbal testimony are convinced, that all the other statements are wholly groundless—especially confuted by a letter from her former pastor.—Com. This report was adopted with perfect unanimity.

Messrs. Steel and Campbell were appointed a committee to republish “A Short Vindication,” &c., with such revision and additions as they shall judge necessary, provided the funds for that object can be obtained.

It was resolved that the next meeting of Presbytery, as to time and place, be at the call of Moderator.

The commission appointed last year reported:—That not finding the petitioners in Des Moines Co., Iowa, in a condition to be organized as a congregation, they admitted eight persons on examination into fellowship, and in one instance administered baptism. These things were done on the 31st of August, 1877, and the first Sabbath of September. On the 17th of September, the Commission installed Rev. John McAuley in the congregation of North Union, Butler Co., Pa. The report was accepted and adopted. D. Steele reported that he had supplied the people in Rochester, New York, during the whole of last June, dispensing the Lord’s supper. Approved, and the commission discharged.

Steele, Fulton, and Renfrew were appointed a Commission to attend to any business which may come regularly before them until next meeting of Presbytery. McAuley and Clyde were appointed to prepare a paper on the Signs of the Times. They reported as follows:—



When we, as a Presbytery, would call the congregations and people under our care to unite with us in solemn fasting and humiliation, we should come into the presence of the Almighty with the deepest self-abasement, crying “unclean! Unclean!”—confessing and forsaking our sins, as did Joshua, David, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and others. Joshua said: “Israel—all Israel—have sinned;” not excepting himself: though he did not cooperate with Achan or approve of his deeds; and he said, “They have also transgressed my covenant.” Chap. 1:11. And David says, “We have sinned with our fathers!”—all of us. Ps. 106:6. And he not only condemns himself, but justifies God. Ps. 51:4. Daniel says, “Yea, all Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, because we have sinned against Him.” 9:11. Ezra says, “O, my God! I am ashamed, and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up to the heavens.” 9:6. Again, he complains that “the holy seed have mingled with the people of the lands; yea, the hand of the princes and rulers hath been chief in this trespass.” v. 2. Nehemiah says, “Neither have our kings, our princes, our priests, nor our fathers, kept thy law, nor hearkened to thy commandments, and thy testimonies, wherewith thou didst testify against them, … for they have not served thee in their kingdom.” Neh. 9:31-35.

From these and similar passages we learn who the sinners are, whose sins we ought to confess. (1) All Israel taken as a unit—the whole church “have transgressed thy law.” Dan. 9:34. (2) All the representatives of the nations, their kings, princes, priests and fathers: the king, or supreme ruler, representing all the constituent parts of the nations; the princes, representing civil society; the priests, ecclesiastical society; and the fathers, the families. And, inasmuch as the king represents the family, the state and the church, when he sins as their representative, they all sin in him and become guilty, and must be punished for his sin, as the people were for the sin of David in numbering the people. “And David spake unto the Lord when he saw the angel that smote his people, and said: Lo! I have sinned and have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done?” 2 Sam. 24:17. But if the king sin, and violate his coronation oath, then, so long as the people refuse to take proper means to reform their king, his sin and perfidy continue to be theirs, and they must suffer for the sin of their king. And if the king cannot be reformed, then it is the duty of the people to protest against the sin and covenant-breaking of the king, and decline his authority; because, in violating his coronation oath or covenant, he forfeited his right to reign over them; for the stipulations of this covenant contain the conditions on which they consented that he should be their king. And when the supreme church court cannot be reformed, it is the duty of the people, and subordinate church courts, to protest against their defection and decline their authority. And in both cases this must be done regardless of all consequences; because it is better to incur the displeasure of both Church and State, than to incur that of the Head of the Church.

But, on the other hand, if a citizen presumptuously sin against God and the law of the land, and the authorities neglect to punish him for his sin and rebellion, then his sin becomes their’s, and his rebellion their rebellion; and God will punish them for their sin and rebellion, because they did not punish the sinner and rebel. So God punished Eli’s house for the sins of his sons; “because they made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.” 1 Sam. 3:13.

And so it is one of the crying sins of the day, that the great masses of pretended professors unite with so-called churches, not only that will not be reformed, but that are making rapid progress in apostacy from God; and they greatly aggravate their sin by remaining and cooperating with them. “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” And when “the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch.” Such have not only mingled themselves with the people of those lands, but have refused to “separate themselves from all strangers.” When the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of these abominations, the faithful cannot receive such to their fellowship and communion; because they would thus be “mingling with the heathen and learning their works.” An irreconcilable backslider is to be treated as a heathen and a publican, whether his sins may be called great or small; though there would be no sin laid to his charge but that of separating from his faithful church, and mingling with a so-called orderly and orthodox church. Such are often a greater snare to the faithful than the heathen man and publican. People are often carried away with the name of order and orthodoxy.

Another great sin and snare in our days, is joining in affinity with the heathen—with those who have no faith, a spurious faith, or a disorderly practice. This is a relationship by affinity in contra-distinction from that of blood. In the days of Noah, this relationship of affinity between the sons of God and the daughters of men was prohibited. The Spirit of the Lord, by the preaching of Noah, strove against this monstrous relationship before the flood, and is still striving against it in the faithful preaching of the Word. This is a monstrous affinity, because it is an alliance formed between the sons of God and the daughters of men—between the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked one; between the saints of the Most High and the children of this world. When the Jews took for themselves and their sons the daughters of the Canaanites, the Hittites and others, concerning this Ezra says (9:14): “Should we again break thy commandments, and join in affinity with the peoples of these abominations, wouldst thou not be angry with us till thou hadst consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping? And Moses says: “Thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them; neither shalt thou make marriages with them; for they will turn away thy son from following me… So will the anger of the Lord be kindled against thee, and destroy thee suddenly.” Deut. 7:2, 3.

Paul says, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers; for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” 2 Cor. 6:14. To have fellowship with such is to have fellowship with disorder and rebellion—is to have fellowship with unrighteousness, not with righteousness—is to have communion with darkness—not with light—is to have concord with Belial, not with Christ—is to have part with infidels not with believers: and to have agreement with such is to have agreement with idols, not with the temple of God. and then it follows—“therefore come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you;” but I will not receive you, unless you do come out from among them and be separate; and so long as you touch the unclean, I will not touch you: I will not be your Father, and ye shall not be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Cor. 6:14-18.

But what are some of the sins of kings, princes, priests and people, in this and other lands? First, “Mingling themselves with the people of the lands”—with those that are unsound in faith or in practice, or with the disorderly and rebellious. Ezra 9:2. “For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons; so that the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands: yea, the princes and rulers have been chief in this trespass.”

Second, refusing to separate themselves from “all strangers.” Those that will not separate themselves from all strangers, as they did in the days of Nehemiah, “cannot stand and confess their sins and the iniquities of their fathers,” Neh. 9:2. Those who will not separate themselves from all strangers and foreigners, cannot be visibly fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God, and are not visibly built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets. Such are not visibly God’s building in Christ, fitly framed together, and visibly growing into a holy temple in the Lord; such are not visibly in Christ, builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. No, they are visibly inhabitants of the outer court, and Gentiles in the flesh, not in the spirit; and are not prepared for the exercise of faith, or for confessing their own sins or the iniquities of their fathers:” Neh. 9:2. All strangers and foreigners, and those who will not separate from such are presently prepared to cover—not to confess and forsake their own sins and the iniquities of their fathers.

Third, a third sin of the kings, princes, priests, fathers and people of our day is, that “they do not serve God in their kingdoms.” All the above named parties are bound to serve God in their kingdom.” The kingdom belongs to the people—the saints of the Most High, before it does to the king; and the saints of the Most High serve God in their own kingdom before the King does. The saints of the Most High first serve God in their kingdom, in framing a righteous constitution and laws.

Fourth, in electing and crowning him king, whom the Lord has chosen: “Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose; one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee, and not a stranger which is not thy brother.” Deut. 17:15. Under God, “the people of the saints of the Most High” have a covenant right to set up, and for just causes, to put down or depose kings. This right belongs not to any but to the saints of the Most High. Daniel saw the little horn making war with the saints, and prevailing against them, until the ancient of days came and judgment was given to the saints of the Most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom. The people of the saints of the Most High have a right to set up as king none but one of themselves—“one from among thy brethren, and not a stranger which is not thy brother.” “And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governor shall proceed from the midst of them; and I will cause him to draw near, and he shall approach unto me; for who is this that engaged his heart to approach unto me?” Jer. 30:21. Finally, it is one of the leading causes of fasting and humiliation, that the great masses of the professed followers of Christ in our land and in others, cannot understand the doctrine that the saints of the Most high are qualified to be ministers of God, and that they alone have a right to sustain this relation to God, and to the nations of the world. “O! send out Thy light and Thy truth, let them lead us;” and thus open our eyes and the eyes of the people; and turn us from darkness to light, and from the power of satan unto God, that we may receive forgiveness of sin and inheritance among them that are sanctified through faith which is in Christ.”


When we would humble ourselves before God on account of the multitude, the magnitude and the aggravations of our sins, and of the sins (we do not say of our nation,) but for the sins of the nation in which we live; on account of the sins of its rulers, and on account of the sins of all other nations; yet, we must not forget to give thanks to Almighty God on account of His grace, mercy, and truth, manifested in choosing us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we might be holy and without blame before Him, in love; that he hath made Him to be sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him; that he hath given us an unction from the Holy One that we might know all things; that He hath given us His good Spirit to instruct us, and to purify our hearts by faith; that He hath given unto us a dispensation of word and ordinances, and has made the same effectual, in gathering in and saving a remnant which shall obtain mercy of the Lord to be faithful. That in His good providence He is giving us food and raiment, and bestowing upon us abundance. Again, in his kind providence, he is giving peace to the land in which we live, and he is thus “granting unto us that we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, may serve him without fear, in holiness and in righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” But while we cannot acknowledge the nation as our nation, because they will not have God as the only true God, and their God; yet we acknowledge that it is our duty to “seek the peace as the land in which we live… and to pray unto the Lord for it, for in the peace thereof we shall have peace.” We will endeavor to seek the peace of the land by way of preaching the Word faithfully to it, as God gives us opportunity. We will endeavour to show the people what the Word teaches; that it says, “The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up men and dirt. There is no peace saith my God to the wicked.” Is. 57:21.

1. In seeking the peace of the nation we will teach them to “depart from evil, do good, seek peace, and pursue it.” Ps. 34:14. 2. In seeking the peace of the nation, we will faithfully preach the Word, which is in its very nature, “peace on earth and goodwill to men;” and which says, “Great peace have they who love thy law.” And we will teach them that they can never have any true and lasting peace until they obtain peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the only ground on which we can have peace in our own conscience, or peace with our fellow man.

Finally, while we would lament that there are so few to lift up a standard in behalf of truth and against the abounding of iniquity, yet we would rejoice that the Head of the Church has put it into the hearts of some to ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward; saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. Jer. 50:5. Let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord: and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem; neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north, to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. And now, our Father who art in heaven, we beseech thee to hasten the day when thou wilt set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth—“the day when there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; when to it the Gentiles shall seek, and his rest shall be glorious.” Is. 11:12; 11:10.

And now, our Father who art in heaven; we beseech Thee to hasten the day, when to the ensign the nations which Thou has set up, Thou wilt assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth: when, to the Root of Jesse which stands for an ensign of the people the Gentile shall seek, and his rest shall be glorious. Is. 11:12; 11:10.

Respectfully reported,


The report was accepted and adopted; and the court appointed the fourth Thursday of next November to be observed as a day of thanksgiving, and the last Thursday of February, 1879, as a day of fasting by all under their care.

Steele and elders Clyde and Robert Alexander were designated a committee to report on the Signs of the Times at next meeting of the Presbytery, when called by the Moderator as above.

In reference to the intimation of parties contemplating marriage, the following preamble and resolution were adopted: Whereas the letter of the law in a recent case was not fully observed, Resolved, that the officers of the church be enjoined to see that the proclamation of banns be fully carried out in future.

The Minutes having been read and approved, the court finally adjourned. Closed with prayer.

D. STEELE, Moderator.

J. F. FULTON, Clerk.


It appears these petitioners from Pittsburgh and Allegheny had all along opposed the New Covenant adopted by the majority of their former brethren in 1871. So soon as this Bond was incorporated with the Terms of Communion, the petitioners, part of them from each of two congregations, met for consultation. On the 24th of June, 1878, they resolved unanimously in this first meeting,—“We will meet no more with our former brethren, as they have laid down the covenanted attainments of the R.P. Church; but will assemble in our fellowship meeting until God in his Providence bless us with a faithful ministry.” On the 5th of August following they appointed their commissioners to the Reformed Presbytery, having previously tabled before their respective Sessions a Protest and Declinature, sustained by the reasons following,which may be helpful to others yet walking in darkness.

“The undersigned offer the following reasons for separation—not from the R.P. Church, but from the Synod that swore and subscribed the New Covenant in Pittsburgh, May 27th, A.D., 1871:

I.—Because by swearing that Bond our brethren violated the Terms of Communion by which we were united in a religious profession. 2.—By said deed they attempted to impose upon us a sinful term of communion—the Bond is this sinful term: and at the same time they set aside lawful terms—our Covenants, National and Solemn League. 3.—Because, when they substituted the Bond for our solemn covenants, they imposed on us a new and unscriptural constitution, to which we owe no subjection; but against which we are solemnly bound to testify. 4.—Because, when they imposed an unscriptural constitution, they also imposed an unlawful administration. 5.—Because the Bond obliges all who swore it to strive to “maintain Christian friendship with pious men of every name, and to feel and act as one with all those pious men (or sects,) in every land, in cultivating a holy brotherhood,” &c. Here we cannot but observe that they do not ask pious men to feel and act as one with them, contrary to the 6th article of our Solemn League; thus, tempting us to perjury, in breach of our manifold obligations and reiterated solemn vows. 6.—Because, in substituting the Bond for our Covenants, N. and S. League, they ask us—contrary even to Reformation Principles Exhibited, to recede from a more clear and pointed testimony to one more general, indefinite and evasive; and further, because they have dropped from their testimony great and important truths, to the knowledge and profession of which they had attained. 7th and lastly, we protest against the Erastianism of the Synod in seeking and obtaining an Act of Incorporation from the Legislature of Pennsylvania; and, also, against the same thing on the part of the congregation of Allegheny city, Pa., in asking an Act of Incorporation from the civil courts; notwithstanding all the remonstrances against this Erastian act—contrary to the law and order of the house of God. For these and other reasons we claim it to be lawful for us to separate from the so-called Synod, and from all her subordinate courts, as having any authority over us. And she being unsteadfast and perfidious in God’s covenant, has forfeited all right to be called by the name, or to enjoy the rights, privileges, or immunities, of the true R.P. Church: and we claim that the right to be called by this name, and to enjoy these rights, privileges, and immunities, belong only to those who steadfastly adhere to the Second Reformation, as attained to from the year 1638 to 1649 inclusive. And this name and all these rights, privileges, and immunities, we claim, in our own name, and in the name of all those who may adhere to this our protest and declinature.” Subscribers’ names—George Alexander, Robert Martin, Mrs. Margaret Martin, Miss Margaret J. Martin, Samuel Davidson, Joseph Logan, Mrs. Nancy Logan, William McCune, James McCune, Mrs. Mary E. McCune, James Ellis, Sarah Ellis, James Millar, John Miller, Isabella Millar, Francis Allen.


[1] These interesting and instructive documents are subjoined to the Minutes of Presbytery’s proceedings in an Appendix.

[2] These slanders are said to have originated with an elder of the New Covenanters: and if it be so that the same individual expressed an audible wish, “That he might live to dance on the grave of the last member of the Reformed Presbytery;” he was surely in a very bad frame, needing the prayers of his brethren, and forgiveness by the members of the Reformed Presbytery.