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James Dodson


[from The Original Covenanter, Vol. III, No. 7, September 1882, pp. 198-202.]


9 o’clock, A.M., June 7, 1882.

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. David A. Renfrew, Robert Alexander, John J. Miller and James Campbell, ruling elders. Fulton was chosen Moderator and Campbell continued Clerk. Mr. George Alexander was asked to sit as a consultative member, and took a seat accordingly. Minutes of last meeting were read and approved. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that the days of Fasting and Thanksgiving had been observed by all the congregations under the care of Presbytery. The committee appointed at last meeting to publish “Rules of Society” reported; Report accepted, approved; and the congregations of Philadelphia, Allegheny, North Union and Rochester agreed to pay in equal amounts the balance due for publication, and receive each, an equal number of the books not sold, and the committee dismissed. Mr. Fulton reported that he had filled his appointment to Iowa. His report was accepted and approved. Mr. Fulton, Miller and Robert Alexander were appointed a committee on the Signs of the Times, to report this P. M. A petition from North Union congregation was presented, received, granted, and Mr. Fulton appointed to supply in that congregation. Petitions from Allegheny and Rochester congregations were verbally presented, received and granted.

The student, Charles Clyde, being present, Messrs. Fulton, Renfrew and Campbell, were appointed a committee to examine him and ascertain his fitness for receiving License. A recess of one hour was taken to allow the committee to examine the candidate and report. Recess having expired, the Court came to order, and the committee reported that they had examined the student on Doctrine, Languages and Church History, and found his answers highly satisfactory. The report was approved and Presbytery resolved to license the student. The young man was accordingly licensed to preach the everlasting gospel. The hour of noon having arrived a recess was taken till 2½ o’clock, P.M.

Recess having transpired, Presbytery came to order. The committee on the Signs of the Times were called on to report. The report was read and considered article by article, and at the conclusion was adopted as a whole, and it is as follows:—


I. We may say in the language of the prophet, there is not truth, nor justice, nor knowledge of God in the Land. Atheism, practical and speculative, pervades all classes of society. Few appear to have any just conceptions of the Divine Nature, which is generally viewed as if it were possessed of one attribute only, that of mercy; and that the manifestation of this attribute alone and not that of the whole of the Divine Character was intended by the work of redemption.

II. God’s sovereignty over us, his propriety in us, and his zeal for his own worship; are denied by the inventions of men. These are usually introduced into the church, not only without the sanction of the Divine Law, but also in opposition to the law of the church. Witness the violation of the law of the church by congregations introducing continuous singing, which may be taken as a sample of the way in which all unscriptural innovations are introduced. Order and steadfastness in the faith are inseparably united; disorder and departure from the faith have the same inviolable connection.

III. Profanity is prevalent among all ranks of society. It is no disqualification for the highest position in civil society that a man be a habitual blasphemer of the name of God. The professed followers of Jesus Christ cheerfully unite with the godless multitude in elevating such men to high places.

IV. Sabbath breaking is as prevalent among many of those professing godliness, as among those who pay no regard to the law of God. The Lord’s day is regarded as merely a holyday on which it is proper to spend a part of it in attending to religious exercises, that the remainder may be spent in the gratification of the desires of the flesh and of the mind. If the man is blessed who keeps the Sabbath, surely the curse will pursue those who pollute it.

V. Disregard to parental authority is so prominent a feature of the present age, that it is spoken of with concern by those who view it only as connected with the welfare of civil society. This is especially alarming on account of the countenance it receives from those who shape the policy of the nominal church. They industriously instill into the minds of youth a contempt for the learning and attainments of our fathers, by representing men advanced in years as unfit to give counsel in matters pertaining to the highest interests of the church; and when such endeavour to arrest the downward course of an apostatizing generation, labeling them as old fogies and bigots. This is contrary both to the light of nature and the Scriptures, as the words senator and presbyter, signifying men advanced in years, clearly teach. Nothing can compensate for the wisdom given by age and experience, but extraordinary endowments by the Spirit of God; and its decrial is a certain precursor of calamity and ruin.

VI. Murder in every imaginable form, abounds in every corner of the land. For proof of this we need only refer to the public news, which furnishes sickening details of the violations of the sixth commandment, few of which receive any adequate punishment. Four of the great men of the earth have been assassinated during the past year, the actors showing a bloody cruelty of purpose not exceeded in ages that are past. Part of these deeds of cruelty were planned by organizations that are likely to become very prominent in the future, as a part of the instrumentality by which the Mediator will inflict judgment on his enemies.

VII. Violations of the seventh commandment are as numerous and flagrant as those of the other commandments. This sins destroys the foundations of moral order, degrades man below the level of the beasts, and has, wherever it has become prevalent, been the precursor of social ruin.

VIII. The eighth commandment is violated by thieving, burglary, robbery, gambling, horse racing, and innumerable devices, whereby men overreach their fellows and deprive them of their property.

IX. Lying is one of the crying sins of the day. This manifests itself in its most malignant form when it assails the character of those who are endeavoring to be faithful to the causes of God. We have reason to believe that at the present time, evil reports are circulated on such persons, with the intention of murdering their reputation and destroying their usefulness; and this is done privately and industriously by those who know that they dare not give them currency over their own signature.

X. The wonderful increase of wealth in these United States has greatly stimulated the avarice of the human heart. No moderate measure of wealth gratifies its desires. The vast fortunes acquired by a few have so excited the imaginations of men, that they look with contempt on a moderate measure of wealth, and endeavour to reach their object—great wealth, by gigantic schemes of fraud.


I. God has crowned the year with his goodness. Though there has been partial failure of some of the crops, there has been destruction by storm, fire and water, yet there has been abundance of food for man and beast.

II. We have had evidence during the past year that there are a few who concur with us in their views of the condition of society, civil and ecclesiastical; who have analyzed the elements that are at work undermining the foundations of moral order. It is greatly encouraging to know that there are those who are wise and understand these things.

III. Though our old and faithful ministers are suffering under the infirmities of age, and their wonted strength and force is abated, yet our covenant God has given us hope that he will never forsake us, by bringing forward one who gives comfortable evidence, that he will walk in their footsteps.

IV. The accessions to our number, though small, give us ground to hope that God will have a seed to do him service while sun and moon endure.

The last Thursday of November, 1882, was appointed as a day of Thanksgiving and the last Thursday of February, 1883, as a day of Fasting.

The Treasurer read his report, which was accepted and approved. Charles Clyde is hereby appointed to supply the congregation in Allegheny on the third and fourth Sabbaths of the present month, and then proceed to the West as he may be directed or called by correspondence with brethren. Supplies to the congregation of Rochester, N.Y., were arranged to be filled at the convenience of the parties.

The late commission has nothing additional to report since last meeting of Presbytery.

The present Moderator was appointed chairman of commission till next meeting of Presbytery, associated with Messrs. Renfrew and Miller, ruling elders. It is agreed that when Presbytery adjourns it be to meet on the first Wednesday on June, 1883, at 10 o’clock, A. M., in the city of Philadelphia.

Twenty-five dollars were appropriated to each of the Ministers, and also to the Licentiate, and the Treasurer directed to pay the same.

After reading the Minutes, which were approved, the Presbytery on motion adjourned with prayer.

J. F. FULTON, Moderator.