MINUTES OF PRESBYTERY.
[from The Original Covenanter, Vol. II, No. 10, June 1879, pp. 330-335.]
The Reformed Presbytery met at the call of the Moderator, on the 17th of September, 1879, at 7½ o’clock, P. M., at the house of Robert Martin, Allegheny City, and was constituted by prayer. The members present were Messrs. David Steele, John McAuley, ministers; Messrs. Robert Alexander, of Philadelphia, George Alexander, of Allegheny City, David A. Renfrew, of North Union, ruling elders; Absent, Rev. James F. Fulton.
Mr. McAuley was chosen Moderator, and D. Steele, Clerk. Adjourned till 9 o’clock, A. M., tomorrow. Closed with prayer.
Same place, September 18th, 9 o’clock, A. M.
Court met and opened with prayer. Members present as before with the addition of Mr. James Campbell, elder from Rochester, New York.
The Minutes of last evening and of last year’s proceedings were read and approved. Unfinished business was taken up. The committee appointed last year to publish a second edition of A Short Vindication of our Covenanted Reformation, with such revisions and additions as they may judge necessary, presented a verbal report, that they had performed the assigned duty. It having appeared from the report that there is in the hands of said committee a considerable part of this edition; on motion it was resolved, that congregations be recommended to endeavor to circulate the work; and to effect this object, that each congregation take 50 copies, and remit the proceeds to the committee.
The days of Fasting and Thanksgiving appointed by Presbytery had been observed.
The committee on the Signs of the Times, appointed last year, presented their report. The document was approved, and at the request of the chairman given back to the committee for revision, and to be incorporated with the published Minutes. It is as follows: “Since the beginning of the world every one by the law of God is his brother’s keeper. Wicked Cain, disregarding this law slew his righteous brother, and his guilty conscience convicted him of his capital crime. Gen. iv. 14. Those whom God has placed in public offices are specially responsible, and are expressly cautioned against the danger of partaking of other men’s sins. 1 Tim. v. 22. This we are liable to do by concurrence, connivance, or failing to warn others. Ezek. iii. 17; Lev. xix. 17. In view of these provisions of the divine law, the following are noted as just.
CAUSES OF FASTING:
I. Professing themselves to be wise, proud scientists become fools, by disseminating atheistical sentiments; and others set their mouth against the heavens in open blasphemy, thus “taking strength to themselves from their own wickedness.” Ps. lii:7.
2. Divine ordinances are not made effectual to their appropriate ends by the divine blessing, because they are greatly corrupted by men’s inventions of what they intend as “helps to devotion;” such as crucifixes, hymns, organs, Sunday-schools, excursions, festivals, fairs, &c.
3. God’s holy name is greatly profaned by cursings, imprecations, unnecessary repetitions of oaths; and these sins and crimes commonly “escape punishment from men” as the official and moral guardians of society.
4. The sacred Sabbath is desecrated by almost all ranks; by railroad and traffic and travel, by steamboat excursions for carnal pleasure, by opening places of public amusement, and by transacting business in the National Legislature.
5. The disobedience of children to the authority of their natural parents is carried out in the school, the church, and in the civil commonwealth. This feature of American society is so marked as to be matter of notice and censure by the people of other nations: and few seem to trace this popular tendency to anarchy to the influence of organic principles in the nation.
6. Murders, suicides, duels, drunkenness and gluttony are fearfully prevalent; and instead of meeting adequate punishment, some of these crimes are perpetrated and patronized by those whose office and duty is to repress and punish them.
7. Those sins and crimes which brought the righteous vengeance of heaven upon the Sodomites are still awfully prevalent in the land. Theatrical exhibitions, obscene novels, pictures, &c., furnish constant fuel to the filthy lusts of both sexes; and national toleration is still extended to polygamy in Utah.
8. Dishonesty is largely practiced by dealers in commodities, by adulterations, false representations and extortion. “It is naught it is naught saith the buyer: but when he goeth his way, then he boasteth”—how he has cheated his neighbor! This precept of the decalogue is also violated by speculating persons in bankruptcies, embezzlements, breach of trust on the part of individuals and corporations, by whose defalcations [misappropriation of entrusted funds] the poor, the orphan and widow are cruelly oppressed.
9. Lying and perjury between man and his fellow, but especially between man and his Maker, continue to demoralize society in all relations. Without remorse of a guilty conscience, professing Christians change ecclesiastical relations at pleasure; thus often lying both to God and man: and even when under just censure, fugitives from righteous discipline find a cordial reception in a more corrupt fellowship—both parties thus contracting guilt by violating the ninth commandment in one of the most aggravated forms of combined transgression.
10. Covetousness, “which is idolatry;” because its votary “worships and serves the creature rather than the Creator,” conducts to the violation of all the other precepts. Paul “had not known sin, except the law”—not the tenth precept only, “had said, Thou shalt not covet.” Covetousness is “full of all unrighteousness.”
Thus, “by swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood touches blood.” For these and many other sins, personal and social, private and public; in the family, the church and the state, we are called to “humble our souls with fasting.”
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
1. Though unworthy of the last of God’s mercies, the ordinances of His grace are continued with us, and administered without the inventions of men.
2. The lives of our ministers and other office-bearers have been spared during the past year, and some have been brought to the knowledge of our distinctive principles, and to embrace them publicly by joining our fellowship amidst the scornings of the people.
3. Our testimony “for the whole of our covenanted reformation” is arresting the attention of persons hitherto kept in ignorance of God’s mighty works wrought for our worthy, valiant and heroic ancestors. Our humble magazine, the ORIGINAL COVENANTER, is “read with tears by the sons of Covenanters even in the wilderness of Southern Australia.”
4. Mourners in our Zion for the defection of one aspirant for the gospel ministry among us, may now “be the less sorrowful,” when another has been moved to come forward and fill the vacant place. Thus they have a present prospect that “their eyes shall see their teachers.”
5. The land in which we dwell enjoys peace, and the labors of the husbandman have been blessed, so that there is food in abundance for man and beast.
6. God’s judgments in the earth continue to show that He reigns among rebellious nations, and that He is about to take His inheritance, by bringing back judgment unto righteousness. For these things let us give hearty thanks to our God.
The Presbytery designated and appointed the fourth Thursday of next November for Thanksgiving, and the third Thursday of February, 1880, for Fasting.
The report of proceedings by the Commission appointed last year was accepted and adopted, and the Commission discharged.
A respectful letter to the Court was received from Mr. Charles Clyde, of Philadelphia, dated September, 1879, asking to be taken under its care as a student, having in view the office of the gospel ministry. The Clerk having informed his brethren that the young man had already made commendable proficiency in preparatory studies, his petition was granted.
Adjourned till 2 o’clock, P. M. Closed with prayer.
Same place, 2 o’clock, P. M.
Open with prayer. Members present as before, except G. Alexander. The Minutes were read and approved.
The Committee on Covenanting reported in part, and members having approved of the document, the Committee was continued. G. Alexander took his seat in Court.
M’Auley, Steele, Campbell and G. Alexander were appointed a Commission till next meeting of Presbytery.
D. Steele gave account of his proceedings during the past summer, stating that in cooperation with ruling elders he had administered ordinances and exercised the discipline of the church in sundry places, both in Ohio and Illinois. The report was approved.
A petition from Rochester, New York, for supply of preaching and the dispensation of the Lord’s supper this Fall was granted.
The following was unanimously adopted:
Resolved, That any minister of this Presbytery may supply vacancies or stations at the request of our people until the next meeting.
The court finally adjourned to meet at the call of the Moderator; and after the reading of the Minutes, which were approved, closed with prayer.
J. M’AULEY, Moderator.
D. STEELE, P. Clerk.