House of Matthew Mitchell, Massies-creek, Greene Co. O. May 25, 1846.
Agreeably to announcement in the March No. of the C[ontending] Witness; some members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church met; and after prayer, proceeded to organize themselves into A GENERAL CORRESPONDENT SOCIETY. Thomas Steele was called to the chair, and Matthew Mitchell appointed clerk.
Matthew Mitchell from Miami congregation, James Williams from Brush-creek congregation, and Thomas Steele from Xenia and Massies-creek congregation; appeared duly accredited as commissioners to this meeting.
Rev. D. Steele and M. Mitchell elder being present, were invited to assist in consultation. They complied with the invitation.
The Chairman made inquiry of the members relative to the steadfastness and exemplary walk of their brethren, and the answers were satisfactory.
After mutual consultation it was agreed, that J. Williams and M. Mitchell of Logan Co. be a committee to prepare an instrument expressive of the mind of this meeting.
Concluded by prayer to meet here tomorrow at ten o’clock, A.M.
Same place, ten o’clock, A.M.
Met and opened with prayer. Same members present as before. The committee appointed yesterday to prepare an instrument expressive of the mind of this meeting, submitted the following report: which having been considered by paragraphs, was adopted. It is as follows:—
OF THE PRESENT STANDING, AND RELATIVE POSITION,
of a few, who would desire to be witnesses for truth, in this generation.
Taking into consideration the peculiarity of our present situation, and the circumstances with which we are surrounded; we deem it necessary for our own vindication and the information of others, relative to precious, but despised truth and scriptural order; to signify to all whom it may concern where we stand absolutely, and what is our position relatively.
Deprived in holy providence for the present of a presbyterial judicatory; by the declension of many, and the removal of a minister from this stage of action, our situation is peculiar. In relation to social organization, we are feeble and infirm and sore broken; so that conscious weakness might deter us from such a bold undertaking as to hazard our sentiments before the public. Encouraged however, by the promise of our divine Master’s presence with two or three, met in his name; as also by the example of our reforming forefathers in like situation, whose footsteps we would aim to follow: we judge it a necessary duty to employ our feeble instrumentality in defending present truth, from the violent assaults or insidious encroachments of adversaries.
In prosecuting this object, our present standing may be ascertained in the first place, from this declaration of our adherence to the following principles:—
1. We adhere to the Holy Scriptures—the Old and New Testament, as the supreme standard and only infallible criterion by which to test principle and practice, whether in individual standing or social relationship.
2. The Westminster Confession of Faith, and Catechisms, Larger and Shorter; as received by the Church of Scotland 1647, and still received by the same moral person.
3. The divine original and unalterable nature of Church Government—believing the Presbyterial Form thereof and the Directory for the worship of God, framed and adopted by said church, to be the nearest attained, to the divine rule.
4. The divine institution of public, social covenanting; and the moral nature and perpetual obligation of the National Covenant and the Solemn League and Covenant; as also, the renovation of these, with the additional attainments in 1712.
5. The scriptural contendings and testimonies of individuals and judicatories, in Britain, Ireland and America:—and especially the judicial testimonies emitted in North Britain and the United States, in behalf of all the foregoing standards.
6. The Terms of Ecclesiastical Communion, and the Declaratory Part of Reformation Principles Exhibited, as these were ratified by the Reformed Presbytery in this land 1845.
In the second place:—
We define our relative position,
by rejecting and condemning the unscriptural sentiments and practices of all those who, by measures of open hostility or covert intrigue, have opposed, or continue to oppose, our covenanted system of doctrine and order as above declared.—And more especially, we deem it necessary in our present circumstances, to direct our testimony against such communities as have appeared, or would assume to appear, under the same reformation banner with ourselves.
1. The Revolution church of Scotland did, towards the end of the seventeenth church, change her covenanted constitution, voluntarily submit to Erastian usurpations by the civil magistrates—tamely and basely bowing her neck to bear the yoke of patronage:—to the robbing of God our Saviour,—the oppression of his rational creatures and purchased inheritance. And although a part have recently separated from the organic national church, because the yoke of patronage, inherited from their fathers became in supportable: yet neither party has to this day, manifested a just resentment of the dishonor done to Zion’s King at the revolution settlement; nor evidenced repentance of the guilt contracted, and yet found in the skirts of them who shed,—or “consented to the counsel and deed of them” who shed, the blood of our martyred fathers. Both parties stand materially on the basis of the revolution settlement, and yet claim be the Reformation Church of Scotland. How preposterous! See Hetherington's His. of the Church of Scotland.
2. The Seceders from the Revolution Church of Scotland, in the earlier part of the eighteenth century; as also, the several fragments into which they have been since divided; have all avowedly relinquished the covenanted reformation, so far as it had a bearing on the scriptural organization and relations of civil society. The several parties in this land, under the common designation, Associate Presbyterians; do publicly and perseveringly reject what they style “the civil part” of our covenants. On the doctrine of toleration, they do, with very few exceptions, identify with infidelity and sectarianism. In these and other prominent features, they do evidence to every intelligent inquirer, that they are not the legitimate offspring of her whom they claim as their mother,—the Reformed Covenanted Church of Scotland.
3. The union effected in the United States towards the end of the eighteenth century, between fragments of the Reformed Presbyterian and Associate Presbyterian Churches; although giving rise to some abstract declarations on civil government more scriptural than the current sentiments of the latter party on that subject: was nevertheless accompanied and followed by grievous and criminal compromitment of reformation attainments. The brevity contemplated in this instrument, precludes amplification here. We only notice in this connexion their unscriptural views and practice in relation to civil magistracy; their latitudinarian principles on ecclesiastical fellowship and presbyterial order; and their erroneous sentiments about the rights of conscience,—referring the reader to the “Articles of Union” and their “Constitution.”
4. Those who dissented from the deed, and separated from the communion of the Associate Reformed Church, when that body proceeded to mutilate and change the Westminster Confession of Faith; although entertaining more scriptural views of the divine ordinance of magistracy than those from whom they separated; and although exhibiting just views of the doctrine of toleration: yet they came short of reformation attainments, and violated the principle of representation, by claiming it as a right, to act as jurors and to elect a moral, or immoral person, to administer an immoral civil government.
5. The breach which was made in 1833, rendered it still farther to deceive the simple. And although there may be found among them individuals, who loudly declaim against some of the enormities contemplated in said paper: yet no judicial condemnation has ever been passed by them, on the errors and sinful courses pointed out, nor by consequence have they given any evidence of repentance. Had there been a conviction of sin in the matters above referred to, and a disposition to make confession: we might have reasonably expected to see them occupy a prominent place in a catalogue of sins condescended on, preparatory to covenant renovation. Not one of these, however, has found a place in that catalogue, either expressly or by implication. Thus it is manifest even to a superficial observer, that they continue as heretofore, equally indisposed to give glory to God by confession, or to redress the just grievances of his people.
Thus we have endeavoured to furnish an answer to those who may ask a reason of our present and peculiar situation; as also, of the position which we occupy, relative to other ecclesiastical communities;—most of whom, if not all, putting forth claims—more or less plausible, to be—and to be considered, the exclusive heirs to the reformation attainments of the covenanted Church of Scotland.
We earnestly desire serious people to examine with attention and candor, what we have here offered for their consideration: allowing our statements to have that weight with them which in our estimation their importance seems to demand.
There was a recess till 2 o’clock, P.M.
Time of recess having expired, the society was called to order by the chairman, all the members were present. Causes of fasting and thanksgiving were prepared and approved, They are as follows:——
CAUSES OF FASTING.
It is incumbent upon us as rational creatures, and much more so as professing christians, to consider the providence of God, and to regard the operation of his hand. And while we believe the causes of fasting and humiliation are to be ascertained by the Holy Scriptures: we also believe that there are calls to such duties by what may be called speaking providences.
1. We acknowledge the hand of God in his dealings with ourselves as a community; in removing from before us an able, faithful and tried servant of Jesus Christ, in the ministry of the gospel. To some at least the name and memory of Rev. Robert Lusk will be long savory; however reproached and maligned by many of those who were wont reluctantly to “hear him rebuke in the gate.” We are deprived of his experienced counsel and efficient aid, in managing a testimony for truth and righteousness. Under this trying dispensation, we acknowledge our own sins as the procuring cause. With the loss of a public teacher, we have been deprived of the privilege of standing under our late presbyterial banner in the vindication of Christ’s much wronged and misrepresented cause.—“All this is come on us”,—but we cannot add with the people of God,—“yet have we not forgotten thee” &c. We are very incompetent interpreters of divine providence; but we may read in this bereavement an expression of our Heavenly Father’s displeasure, for misimprovement of mercies and privileges heretofore enjoyed.
2. Love of the world has often been prevalent over love to God and the ordinances of his graces. This is evidenced by our looking upon, and calling the secular time occupied in the service of God “lost time.”
3. It is matter of grief to our hearts, that so many of the former standard-bearers and soldiers of the cross, have either lowered the standard, or altogether furled “the flag of the covenant.”
4. We lament that while much earnestness is expressed for union in the visible church; there is a correspondent carelessness about some divine truths, which must lie at the foundation of a scriptural union:—Such as, the universal and exclusive sovereignty of our exalted Mediator; the coordinate powers of church and state; their independence, each of the other, in their appropriate spheres; and their friendly relations, as being indispensable to the well-being of society, &c. In a word—The most popular measures adopted or recommended, are in many respects inconsistent with the Scriptures, and subversive of some of the cardinal doctrines and established order of the Scottish Reformation.
5. We would be humbled in view of the “floods of ungodliness” visibly spreading through the land, proceeding frequently from those who profess to be zealous for the renovation of the morals of society. From a part of the Temperance and Abolition, as well as the political press; emanate blasphemy, deism,—profane ridicule of the institution of the holy sabbath,—the church, her ordinances and ministry;—Blasphemy against the Son of God and the Holy Spirit—their personal dignity and saving work.
6. The United States have involved themselves in a war, in which they may expect to be destitute of the sympathies of the intelligent christian and true patriot; because in our estimation, the extension of slavery and the slave trade,—that unhallowed system of oppression, appears to constitute the prominent ground of the quarrel.
For these and other causes,—such as prevalent desecration of the sabbath, in cities, towns, villages and country;—tending to the manifest corruption of the rising generation: we agree, and request our brethren to join us, in observing the first Thursday of March 1847, as a season of fasting, humiliation and prayer.
CAUSES OF THANKSGIVING.
Although “the Lord hath showed to us hard things, we are not without causes of thankfulness, and also providential calls to this part of duty.
1. While the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord is evidently lifting up a standard. Some are still taking pleasure in the rubbish and the stones of Zion, and favouring the dust thereof for her sake. The learned and pious labors of Scotland’s worthies, which have lain buried for nearly two centuries; are called up from their graves, and we hope, destined yet to praise them in the gate.
2. The fundamental principles of rational liberty are undergoing earnest examination and a severer scrutiny than has been attempted for many past generations. And although these investigations are too frequently found to issue in licentiousness; yet we would had them as precursors of a better condition of society; when human rights shall be clearly seen to consist with those that are divine, as both are defined in the Holy Scriptures.
3. Many are running to and fro, and knowledge is increased. True, they often run unsent, and without scriptured or rational aim; and the acquisitions in the arts and sciences are generally unsanctified: nevertheless a faculty to acquire knowledge being the gift of God;—the genius and inventive powers of this age transcending those of the past; we may indulge the hope that even these are now under constitution, to facilitate the destined triumphs of the glorious gospel.
4. Our own forfeited and unprofitable lives are prolonged;—the earth yields her increase for the sustenance of man and beast:—we have been favoured with an opportunity—with physical and mental ability, to meet and consult on the present occasion,—have consulted and arrived at conclusions with desirable harmony; and have not been utterly deprived of a preached gospel.
For all these and other causes, we would desire to express our thanks to the Father of mercies, and agree to observe the last Thursday of December, 1846.
The time and place of next meeting was appointed on the last Monday of May, 1847, at Brush-creek, Adams Co. O. Closed with prayer.
THOMAS STEELE, CHAIRMAN.
MATTHEW MITCHELL, CLERK.