MINUTES OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERY.
[from The Original Covenanter, Vol. II, No. 16, December 1880, pp. 490-495.]
12TH AND FILBERT STS., PHILADELPHIA,
October 6th, 1880, 10 o’clock, a.m.
Presbytery met according to adjournment and was constituted by prayer. The members present were Messrs. John M’Auley and David Steele, ministers; with Messrs. James Anderson and Robert Alexander, ruling elders. M’Auley was continued Moderator and Steele chosen Clerk, and Mr. Charles Clyde assistant Clerk. Absent, Rev. James F. Fulton. There was no representation from Rochester or Allegheny. Mr. Robert Clyde was invited to sit as consultative member, and took a seat accordingly.
The Minutes of last meeting were read and approved.
Unfinished business was then taken up. The committee appointed at last meeting on the Signs of the Times reported. The report was accepted; and having been considered by paragraphs, it was adopted as follows:―
The committee on the Signs of the Times respectfully report:
The church of Christ is represented by Himself as a “city set on an hill,” and her ministry are called watchmen. This implies official duty―to notice the developments of providence, and give timely warning to their fellow citizens of threatening enemies and impending judgments. The Christian Church ought to be as a city which men would call “the perfection of beauty, and joy of the whole earth.” When it is otherwise, a hostile world without traitors within, the duty and privilege of Zion’s loyal children is to bewail her desolations, and beseech the Lord to regard the “matters of their fastings and their cry.”
At present the following specifications are submitted as
CAUSES OF FASTING.
1. Heathen dogmas are incorporated with the principles of the gospel, not only by apostate Rome, but principles subversive of the very foundations of the sinner’s hope emanate from the pulpit, from the press, and from the chair of the theological professor, and consequently:
2. Religion is generally regarded as a ceremony; a routine of carnal amusement, affecting only the outer man, and not influencing the heart so as to purify the affections.
3. Uncleanness in all its grades exists among professing Christians; and instead of forming a barrier to membership or office, this species of detestable immorality is too often palliated, and combinations formed to cover up the enormity.
4. Antichristian churches and pagan commonwealths, setting at naught divine institutions under the pretext that these have failed to answer the ends for which they were designed, have largely prevailed to banish family worship, and the domestic training of children and servants by precept and example.
5. A licentious press continues to deluge society with works of fiction, furnishing food for the fleshly lusts of youth, and thus destroying any taste for the sincere milk of the word, and hardening their tender hearts against the fear of God.
6. All the nations of christendom continue their opposition to the Lord’s Anointed. “The Lord Jesus has nothing to do with the affairs of state―we will not have this man to reign over us,” is the practical language of the whole conspiracy.
7. The desecration of the Sabbath is legalized by the carrying of the mail; by the running of passenger and freight trains; by parties of pleasure on land and water, and by camp meetings under pretense of extending the blessings of the gospel.
8. Official oaths and plighted faith are almost everywhere disregarded in church and state. Persons often violate their solemn vows to God and man, without any apparent dread of divine retribution. They join such a church or minister from family connection, local convenience or secular advantage―reckless of principle they go with the multitude, though God has said, “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil.”
9. Some having gone out from us, concerning the faith which they had ignorantly professed, have made shipwreck of a good conscience, and brought reproach upon the cause which they abandoned.
10. Lastly:―In all these departures from God’s word and from a former Scriptural reformation, they who minister at the altar are chief in the trespass―“And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth.” For these and other sins, chargeable upon ourselves and others, we should be deeply humbled before God.
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
1. We yet enjoy the written word and preached gospel, and also the dispensation of the seals of God’s everlasting covenant. Scattered as we are over this continent like gleaning grapes, two or three berries in the tops of the uppermost bough; those who continue in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ with us are occasionally refreshed, either by personal visits or by our Quarterly Magazine.
2. We have reason to believe that all over christendom our Lord has disciples, who hide His word in their hearts, that they sin not against Him: some who are the salt of the earth, yet not having fortitude to shine as lights in the world.
3. We have comfortable evidence of our Lord’s faithfulness to that promise, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” In the degenerating assemblies and synods of the British Isles, once famous among churches of the Reformation, some are still raised up to stand in the gap. The duty of nations to Immanuel and to His church finds advocates in Scotland; and the purity of divine worship is ably defended by some in Ireland. Chief among these are Messrs. Begg and Petticrew.
4. The Lord Jesus continues to lay under contribution a variety of instrumentalities to translate and circulate the Holy Scriptures among the nations. It is not to be supposed, indeed, that modern missionaries will carry to Mahometan and Pagan nations a purer gospel than they leave at home: but as the Lord sent the Old Testament by Jews to the nations before His incarnation, just so now He sends the Bible “into all places whither He Himself will come,” in the power of His spirit by men of apostolic integrity.
5. Literature, science and art are becoming more extensively diffused among mankind, opening up avenues from east to west, from north to south, for the bringing together of all races and all religions: and since greater is he that is in the saints than he that is in the world; so, correspondently, great is his truth, and it shall prevail.
6. While we hear of different nations suffering by war, famine and pestilence, the land in which we dwell enjoys peace, and is still favored with fruitful seasons, supplying the want of every living thing. For these and other reasons we are called to enter Jehovah’s gates with praise and His courts with thanksgiving.
The last Thursday of November next was appointed as a day of thanksgiving; and the last Thursday of February, 1881, as a day of fasting by all under the inspection of the Presbytery.
The following preamble and resolutions were adopted:―
Whereas, The Lord commands his people to make known his testimony and his law to posterity: and
Whereas, Some of the permanent documents which exhibit the Scriptural attainments of Christ’s witnesses are rarely to be found either in market or in private hands: and
Whereas, It is well known that leaders in defection have for many years endeavoured to consign to oblivion the Auchensaugh Renovation, so that repeated called from our people for this document cannot be supplied, and through it all our subordinate standards are assailed: therefore
Resolved, That another edition of the Auchensaugh Deed be published.
Resolved, That Messrs. Steele, Alexander and John Clyde be a committee to attend to this business with all convenient speed.
Adjourned with prayer to meet in the same place at 2½ o’clock, p.m.
SAME PLACE, 2½ O’CLOCK, p.m.
Court met and opened with prayer. All the members were present. As had been arranged in the forenoon the theological student, Mr. C. Clyde, was called upon to deliver before Presbytery a specimen of improvement. He spoke on the doctrine of the Atonement. The court expressed satisfaction with the soundness of the discourse, and gratification at the evidence of the student’s proficiency; and he was directed to continue his course of studies under the supervision of his present instructor.
It having appeared that no business had been transacted by the Commission appointed in May last, they were continued till next meeting, only substituting elder Robert Clyde for elder David A. Renfrew. Adjourned with prayer to meet at the same place on the 8th instant, at 10 o’clock, a.m.
SAME PLACE, OCTOBER 8TH, 10 O’CLOCK, a.m.
Presbytery met and was opened with prayer, and all the members were present. Minutes read and approved.
The Overture on Covenant Renovation was taken up for farther consideration. Only from one quarter were amendments sent up, and most of these were merely verbal, not affecting the matter of the original; while from many sources expressions of approval were forwarded to the court. After careful examination and earnest but amicable discussion of amendments, changes, or additions; whether proposed by members of the court or others: it was agreed unanimously, that the following amendments be incorporated with the Minutes, directing to the page, paragraph, article or line, where the amendment are to be inserted in the Overture.
Page 7, third paragraph, 2d line.―We renew our own and our fathers’ covenants neither ecclesiastically nor nationally as representatives of either church or state, as the yare now confederated against the Lord and his Anointed: but we appear publicly as a “despised remnant,” avowing allegiance to Zion’s only King and Prince of the kings of the earth, pledging our adherence to those public deeds of our progenitors in which the Divine Ordinances of Church and State are exhibited, and in which they are exemplified as coordinate, mutually independent, friendly, and helpful to the family and to each other.
Adjourned with prayer, to meet at 2215 Fitzwater St., at 2½ p.m.
2215 FITZWATER ST., 2½ O’CLOCK, p.m.
Met and opened with prayer. Members all present. Resumed the consideration of the Overture on covenanting.
Page 8, fourth line: We acknowledge the heinous sins of repeated violation of our covenanted unity―First, By joining in a military confederacy with the American colonies in the revolutionary war of 1776. Second, Joining in a similar confederacy with Irish Papists and others to cast off the British government in 1798. Third, In a similar confederacy in the war with England in 1812: and Fourth, By the like military association in the late civil war; and these sins were aggravated by framing oaths of allegiance or fidelity in the years 1812 and 1863.
Page 11, tenth line, after “beast,” add,―They still refuse to profess and defend the true religion in doctrine, worship, government and discipline, contrary to the example of the kingdoms of Scotland, England and Ireland in the seventeenth century.
Page 12, line 5 from foot of page, after “viz.” insert―The National Covenant and Solemn League.
All the ministers of this Presbytery were authorized to preach the gospel “wherever they may be called or cast” till next meeting.
The court unanimously deferred the Act of Covenant Renovation till next meeting, on account of the paucity of members present, and the inability of the ministry in the midst of other arduous duties, to take the lead in such solemnity. It was also agreed that the next meeting of this court be within the bounds of North Union congregation, on the Wednesday preceding the last Sabbath of May, 1881. That meeting was appointed for the express purpose of covenant-renovation: and it was understood that a day of solemn fasting and humiliation shall precede the Act of Covenanting.
A presbyterial having been read and approved, the Moderator closed the exhaustive proceedings with solemn prayer.
JOHN M’AULEY, Moderator.
D. STEELE, Clerk.