BY A COMMITTEE OF THE
("CIRCULAR" AND "REVIEW" PREFIXED)
REX NOSTER, JESUS, REGNET, OMNESQUE EI INIMICI DISJICIANTUR.
At the suggestion of brethren, and in compliance with their desire, two tracts are prefixed to the Vindication. The Circularhad been issued to apprise the unsuspecting of the deception developed in the Pittsburgh Bond [in 1871]. The Review was published afterwards, to show that in a sermon by one who refused to swear the "New American National Covenant," the vicious principle was embodied—the principle of the "Public Resolutions"' of 1650, which overthrew the Second Reformation.
Believing these two tracts to be auxiliary to the object of the Committee’s appointment by Presbytery, they are herewith given to the public without any charge. The reader will see by comparing this edition of the Vindication with the first, that a large part of the matter is new, and the honest Covenanter will justify the changes from his knowledge of the bitter fruits produced in the last seven years by the perfidious Bond [i.e., the Covenant of 1871].
The whole is again committed to the disposal of Him whose "eyes are upon the truth." Jer. 5:3.
Hisce sententiis et interrogationibus sequentibus, Turrettini operibus extractis, antagonistae, si velint—si possint, respondeant.
"Haec nos movit ratio, ut licet tanto operi impares nosmet satis agnoscamus, aliquid tamen in eo genere tentaremus. Non ignari sumus quam periculosae sit plenum opus aleae, hoc praesertim seculo, ut oculatissimo, ita perquam fastidioso, cui vix quiequam arridet quod novitatis gratia se non commendet: victi tamen iteratis amicorum hortationibus recusare non possemus. Sed id demum studuimus, ut si non possemus votis ipsorum plene satisfacere, utcunque saltem honestae ipsorum petitioni respondere conaremur.
Adversarii nostri suam disputandi methodum sanciunt, ex qua nos etiam inauditos condemnari posse, absque ullo doctrinae examine iniquissime contendunt. Quae sane ratio, ut commodissima et compendiosissima est elabendi, ita alienissima est tum a veritatis indole, quae lucem, non latebras quaerit, tum a bonae causae conscientia; et non obscurum est malae et desperatae causae argumentum. Nam si serio persuasi sunt de doctrinae quam profitentur veritate, ecquid tam solicite ejus refugiunt examen? Cur tot diverticula et ambages quaerunt?"
"And with Absalom went two hundred men out of Jerusalem, that were called; and they went in their simplicity, and they knew not any thing."—2 Sam. 15:11.
"A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished."—Prov. 22:3.
If "uninspired history" be credible, if it be any sort of bond in human society, the public have been informed by "Reports" in the daily secular press, that an ecclesiastical body, calling themselves "The Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church," have adopted and sworn a certain "Bond." This important event transpired on the 27th of May, 1871, in the city of Pittsburgh. After many successive, laborious steps of preparation during the past forty years, all of which proved abortive,—especially in the year 1856,—most of the generation having passed away, who resisted attempts to "cut loose" from our Covenants, National and Solemn League; their successors have framed a SUBSTITUTE for those solemn deeds.
The design of the leaders in this act of perfidy and sacrilege, cannot be known from the ambiguous language of their treacherous Bond, in which one of themselves openly declared that "many of the cardinal principles of the Second Reformation had been left out!" The real animus of the leaders of this shameful defection,—this violence done to the "carved work of our martyred fathers," can be discovered only in their declared sentiments; and even then, only in part; for there are still some to keep them in check, by "exceptions, remonstrances, protests, etc."—chiefly among the elders and members; so that their false guides could not safely venture to utter all their hearts. Honorable mention is made here of Rev. Messrs. M’Auley and Shaw. May their "bow abide in strength."
Some of the more rash among the leaders partly "kythed in their true colors," removing the mask with their own hands.
The avowed design of this Circular is to aid the reader in discovering the long-cherished and deep-laid scheme to uproot in this land the last fibre of the Reformation vine. For more than sixty years, "the foxes,—the little foxes," have prevailed for to "spoil" this vine more than the "boar and the wild beast." The years 1833 and 1871 will be marked as epochs in its future history. "The house of Israel and the house of Judah have dealt very treacherously against me, saith the Lord."
Having long since succeeded in burying out of sight, and now almost out of mind, the Renovation of our Covenants at Auchensaugh; the attempt is made,—an attempt as vain as it is impious, to bury the original documents. That this attempt may appear to all those who are not willingly "bewitched," let the following sentiments of some—and only some, of the leaders be duly pondered. The extracts from public speeches, as reported, are here numbered, and remarks upon them follow in the same numerical order:—
I.—"Rev. Dr. Sloan moved that a committee be appointed to report on the difficulties or objections of the Sessions, and report this afternoon." Being chairman of said committee, he reported, "That we (Synod) cannot make any changes;" although "eleven Sessions had voted against the adoption of the Bond." He "opposed any amendments."
II.—"Rev. A. M. Milligan,—We have nothing to do with the governments of Great Britain. Why need we name the National Covenant of Scotland anymore than a covenant of Germany?
III.—"Rev. S. Carlisle. . .would cut loose from the Covenants. . .We have now in the Bond all we want."
IV.—"Rev. Dr. Sproull said he had been ever since last Synod prepared to covenant on the Bond then adopted. He favored the report of the committee;" namely, to permit no amendment.
V.—"Rev. S. O. Wylie regretted that any should think himself or others are not as much attached to the Covenants of our ancestors as they. If our Terms of Communion can be simplified and abbreviated, why not simplify? . . . The aim of our Bond, the design of the drafting committee, was to Americanize the Covenants, . . . to have an American Covenant, not a British, for the American church: so that we can say to applicants for membership, here is our covenant. . . . . . We term it (the Bond) the Covenant of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of the United States. If we adopt, we say to the people, this is our covenant, this, our national covenant. . . . . The covenants are not the link uniting us with the Church of the Reformation. That link is in the Confession of Faith and other Westminster documents. The point of contact lies in these."
VI.—"Rev. J. S. T. Milligan had examined the covenants, and believed our Bond in advance of them. Let us bury the body of Moses in Moab, lest it be worshipped . . . . Much of the old Covenants is incomprehensible. Only in the archives of the British nation could we learn what they mean."
The "Report" of the speeches made by members is exceedingly meagre, and possibly there may be some typographical errors even in the scanty materials furnished in the "Report." The limited space which can be allotted to it in this Circular also requires additional curtailment: yet the real sentiments—the very words of the several speakers, are given in the above extracts. And it is not difficult to discover how each of them stood affected to what are styled the "old Covenants."
Besides, the specimens quoted are to be considered the sentiments of the "overwhelming majority," who adopted the Bond, and would suffer no amendments—not even the naming of the Covenants in the Bond. And when these were of necessity mentioned in the progress of the discussion on the provisions of their Bond, the feelings of the speakers on both sides may be easily discerned even by babes in our Israel. Some of the leaders were not ashamed to manifest their contempt, and even loathing, when naming those endearing monuments of the enlightened zeal, profound erudition, and heroic courage of our renowned and godly ancestors. No, "they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush." These modern pigmies are too far dwarfed in intellectual stature to measure the altitude—too long, and too deeply steeped in earth’s politics, to estimate the latitude, of our glorious Covenanted Reformation—a Reformation which, imbedded in the law and covenant of God, has already brought civil and ecclesiastical freedom to many millions; and which is doubtless destined to be laid in the foundation of reconstructed society in the millennial period of our world.
I.—It seems Dr. Sloan had the honor, or claimed it, of stopping the mouths of all "remonstrants." That very "afternoon," he would apply the gag, and no protestation from those a hundred or a thousand miles away, might so much as be heard on the public floor, from man, woman, congregation or Session, against their perfidious Bond. The reader will understand, that all such papers were given into the hand of the Doctor’s committee to be manipulated and strangled in secret. There is no such relentless tyranny as that of a prevailing majority.
II—Rev. A.M. Milligan wanted "nothing to do with the governments of Great Britain." He somehow blurted out "governments" when he meant Covenants; for instantly the "National Covenant of Scotland" is in his mouth; but he nauseates it as he would a "Covenant of Germany!" He wishes "no more to do" with the one than the other. That is plain enough. This putting of "governments" for "covenants" evinces the feeling of the speaker. If he has "nothing to do with the governments of Great Britain;" this would imply that he has "something to do" with the government of the United States!—Covenanters have to do with both. By their solemn vows they are bound to testify against their immoralities: against Britain for perjury, in violation of the Solemn League and usurpation of the Mediator’s crown; against the United States, for national hostility to the Lord, his Anointed and his law.
In this way we have still much "to do" with all the governments of Christendom, while they continue at "war with the Lamb." The pitiable but contemptible "nativism" of these new-fledged patriots, is now palpable and in obvious contravention of the real catholicity of our Solemn League. Oh! where are the true patriotic Hendersons of our day?
III.—It is hoped the negative particle, not, has been omitted by the printer in the report of the Rev. S. Carlisle’s speech. This, however, is not certain; for he is satisfied with the Bond. It "has in it all he wants," although "many cardinal principles of the Second Reformation are left out," in the judgment of Rev. M’Auley!
IV.—For a whole year, Rev. Dr. Sproull had been "prepared to covenant on the Bond" as it was. No doubt of it, for he was equally and declaredly prepared, more than a decade of years ago, to coalesce with "The Convention of Reformed Churches," on the basis of the "Westminster Standards," our Covenants not being considered the "link of connection with the Church of the Second Reformation" in the estimation of himself and his coadjutor. O, fratres nobiles duo!"
V.—"That any should think him not as much attached to the Covenants as they," is matter of "regret?" with Rev. S.O. Wylie. This voluntary and public expression of "regret," is no doubt the genuine truth: yet, however much regretted by some, it is matter of fact that "good words and fair speeches" do not always "deceive the hearts of the simple." Rev. Wylie sees, that as an evident logical sequence, the Terms of Communion must needs be "simplified." He meant "changed." By all means the Terms must be "abbreviated," by removing the eyesore of our Covenants, that "American applicants for membership" may not be "stumbled" by the fellowship of a "foreign element, connected with the governments of the old world," as was imprudently blabbed out by one of "the simple faithful."
"The aim of the Bond—the design of the drafting committee," Rev. Wylie said, was to have "an American covenant;"—and now they have succeeded, in aim and design, by an "overwhelming majority!" Did they allow the Master of assemblies his vote? It is very certain they did not, for the "overwhelming majority" acquiesced in the following statements of the speaker:—"This is our covenant,—this, our national covenant. The Covenants are not the link uniting us with the Church of the Reformation."—On the contrary, all Reformed Presbyterians have been "unanimous," that our Covenants are the only formal link uniting any, individual or society, to the Second Reformation. And this position has been defended, and triumphantly demonstrated, both by Scripture authority and solid logical argument, against all the sophistries of covenant-breakers for more than a hundred years. Nothing short of "ignorant presumption" can account for the reiteration of a sophism so stale.
We have heard of "blind zeal,—zeal without knowledge." and have read of "overstrained zeal;" but all these combined are far short of characterising the notable display of that complex emotion exemplified in the following,—("extravaganza;—a musical composition, designed "to produce effect by its wild irregularities.") Here it is,—"This is our covenant—this, our NATIONAL covenant."!!!
Now, who shall question, after such demonstrations of patriotic emotion, Rev. S.O. Wylie’s ardent attachment to the British Covenants," that is—the "old Covenants!" He triumphs and glories in the acquisition of a national covenant! Simple Covenanters, "weaned from the breasts," will instinctively ask, "Where is the President’s signature? (et aliorum hujus reipublicae praeclarae primorum?) and of the other distinguished men of this renowned republic? Alas! such insane raving;—provoking ridicule, were it not for its impiety. Rev. Wylie suggested, moreover, that to prevent "angry discussion," (!) all matters of discipline should "lie over till next meeting." This would be a prompt but rather harsh method of coercing all recusants to accept their new "NATIONAL American Covenant!"—"There were stings in the tails of the scorpions."
VI.—In the opinion of Rev. J.S.T. Milligan their new "national covenant is in advance" of our Covenants—the "old British Covenants." Well, that is a pleasant thought in these days of generally acknowledged defection and growing ritualism. He has "examined" our Covenants, and they are found to be "incomprehensible"! This humiliating confession would seem to confirm the general estimate of the speaker’s intellect as not being very bright. Certainly, if that be true, it is no fault of his. It is not at all necessary that he be at the cost and travel of a journey to the "archives of the British nation," in order to "learn what they mean," namely, our Covenants. Two simple expedients are suggested, by which even he may yet get some insight into the "meaning of them":
First.—Let him seek the Spirit of illumination, and a disposition to learn; and he shall attain to a "more perfect knowledge of that way," as illustrated by our Covenants.
Second.—Resort to some Priscilla,—perchance to be found among his own charge, who may "show him the way of God more perfectly." It will be no disparagement to imitate Apollos. But, indeed, there is little hope of future progress in the knowledge of our Covenanted Reformation by any who expresses a desire to have our Covenants "buried in Moab with the body of Moses," and who is so chivalric as to designate a locality so remote for their sepulture.
This is supposed to be the same individual who, some years since, denounced the Rule requiring public intimation of purpose of marriage, as "a relic of popery"! No wonder if he wishes our Covenants buried! He has "advanced" beyond all that is by him considered "incomprehensible."
The "dispute with the devil about the body of Moses" was not so long protracted as it has been in the present case. For more than a hundred years the dispute has gone on about our Covenants. While many professed friends, as in the present instance, have "essayed to renew them," others, "not less friendly," have often charged the "renewers" with burying them; yea, laying grave-stones on them. Moreover, through the rage of the dragon and his angels, they have been thrice consigned to the devouring flames; yet have they survived, possessing greater vitality than the fabled phoenix, and doubtless are yet destined to "torment them that dwell on the earth."
Let these dwarfish zealots, who pretend by their Bond to renew our Covenants,—a Bond in which "many cardinal principles of the Second Reformation are left out,"—let them hear the voice of "some giants of those days" that are past, and let both their ears tingle. We adduce the following samples:—
"The careful exclusion of the very names of these Covenants (by the United Secession Church,) can be viewed in no other light than a practical renunciation of their obligation." But the declared "aim of the Bond," and the "design of the drafting committee,"' was carefully to exclude the very name of the Covenants.
We are sagely told that "not the Covenants, but the Westminster Confession," etc., constitute the "link uniting us with the Church of the Second Reformation." To this heretical statement, take the following pointed answers:—"Those who adhere to the doctrinal Confession alone, do not hold the matter of the Covenants; but want altogether the formal testimony against the whole system of antichristianism, in all forms, in all places forever."—"It is through a moral subject that the obligation and the matter are linked together; for the matter may be held when the obligation is repudiated; and the Westminster Standards may be formally adopted by many, who refuse to give the obligation (of the Covenants) a place in their creed."—This is true of Seceders, Associate Reformed Presbyterians, United Presbyterians, and most other Presbyterians on both sides of the Atlantic,—even in many islands of the sea. But they are more consistent and honest than the adherents to the Bond, for they tell the public to what part of the Confession they take exception, and most of them make no pretention to own our Covenants; but our "advanced" reformers, who would "bury them," do not tell the world what "cardinal principles are left out of their Bond."
Again: "The continued obligation of the Covenants was not only a prime article of testimony during the persecution, but their WHOLE TESTIMONY, as to its formal nature, turned on THIS POINT. Persons may approve of the Westminster Standards and yet may not adopt the COVENANTED REFORMATION properly and formally considered." But enough. It is worthy of special note that one of the authorities above cited had used the very word "LINKED," the word expressing the "POINT of CONTACT!"
The foregoing pointed and conclusive sentiments are quoted from the arguments of champions who both understood and loved our Covenanted Reformation. They had been called to "contend earnestly" against just such ignorance and treachery as have been recently developed.
Going farther back in the history of our thrice burned, often buried and betrayed Covenants, which despite the Dragon’s rage and subtlety are still alive; let us hear some of the proto martyrs speak their mind on their obligation and perpetuity:—
The noble Marquis of Argyle, upon the scaffold, said, "God hath tied us by covenants to religion and reformation. These that were then unborn are yet engaged, and it passeth the power of all the magistrates under heaven to absolve them from the oath of God. They deceive themselves, and it may be, would deceive others, who think otherwise."—And it also "passeth the power of all" Synods, Assemblies, etc.
Rev. James Guthrie, about to be launched into the presence of the final Judge, lifted the napkin, and said, "The Covenants, the Covenants shall yet be Scotland’s reviving." These worthies, who may be considered archetypes of a Scriptural magistracy and ministry, understood the catholic nature of our Solemn League, its adaptability to all churches and all nations.
Next, let us hear the authoritative voice of the Reformed covenanted church:—"Act of Assembly, Aug. 3, 1648, That such ministers who shall be found not applying their doctrine to the sins and corruptions of the time . . . be censured according to the degree of their faults, and, continuing therein, be deprived; and, persevering, deposed." Oh! how much need now of such discipline!
Ref[ormation] P[rinciples] Exhibited: "The Church may not recede from a more clear and particular testimony to a more general and evasive one. If, in the late civil contest to "enforce the Constitution and execute the laws," Covenanters were publicly exhorted thus: "Cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood," may it not be replied, "Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way!" Let all who fear God reflect, that He is the chief party in our Covenants. He is omniscient, and cannot be deceived: He is jealous and will not be mocked.
"The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant, which I made with their fathers."
"Mark them which cause divisions and offences, contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them."
Time has confirmed the conclusiveness of the position long since taken by Rev. Thomas Henderson, That those who oppose or reject the Auchensaugh Renovation, must relinquish the Original Covenants.
"Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock."
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith (hope) without wavering."
"Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown."
"He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches."
"OUR BANNERS SET UP," is the title of a sermon published by Rev. J.W. Shaw. The author was one of a minority who, in the year 1871, dissented from the action of his brethren, adopting by "an overwhelming majority" an "American Covenant." Mr. Shaw and others insisted that the Covenants, National and Solemn League be expressly named, and the obligation of those deeds recognized in the New Covenant. In this object they utterly failed. Hence their dissent. It is an obvious assumption that the author of the Sermon under consideration is thus carrying out his dissent. His brethren of the majority will not discover much, if anything, in his published sentiments, to which they will take exception. On the other hand, some, while approving the general sentiments of the sermon, will be unable to endorse it as a whole. For my part, I am very much displeased with the author’s views on association or co-operation with other denominations, and with the men of the world. His views are essentially the same as those of the New Covenant on the same subject.
He says,—"Co-operation with good men, in promoting the moral and social welfare of the race, and with Christians in the furtherance of the interests of the kingdom of Christ, where no sinful compromises are required, we do not oppose; but this is not what is known as ‘Christian and ministerial fellowship,’" (p. 14.) Now, a sound and intelligent Covenanter cannot unite in organic fellowship with any one holding and avowing such sentiments, because they are not one,—they are as wide apart as the poles on this subject. It was just this "heresy," small as it still appears to many, that "destroyed" the "Second Reformation,"—pleading for association with "incendiaries, malignants and evil instruments." This is the verdict of history.
That like causes will continue to produce like effects, let the following arguments be considered:—
1.—To co-operate means to "work together." Then Mr. Shaw’s doctrine in the above sentence is a plea for so-called Covenanters,—all sects, and the men of the world, to work together,—to "co-operate."
2.—By "good men," he means good men of the world,—good men having "carnal minds at enmity against God," that are "not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." These good carnal men are such as Mr. Shaw supposes can "co-operate" with Covenanters and Christians of all sects,—he makes no exceptions,—"for the moral and social welfare of our race." These "good men" are contra-distinguished from the Christians named in the next clause of the sentence, who can co-operate with each other,—"for the furtherance of the kingdom of Christ."
3.—The author of this Sermon admits that the co-operation of Covenanters with so-called good men of the world, and schismatical Christians, is not Christian and ministerial fellowship,—is some other kind of fellowship for which Christianity makes no provision; for if Christianity did make provision for such fellowship, then it would be "Christian fellowship." This fellowship was devised by carnal men, heretical sects and backsliding Covenanters, without the aid, sanction or co-operation of Christianity. Truly this is not a Christian confederacy; if it were then "co-operation" would be Christian and ministerial fellowship. No, this is the kind of confederacy that Christianity forbids:—"Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people say, A confederacy." (Is. 8:12.)
Again, there is much bad theology in the sentence under review, of which the following are samples:—
1.—It teaches that there, may be "good men" without Christianity. But the Holy Spirit says,—"The whole world lieth in wickedness." (1 John 5:19.)—"good men" outside of the Church of Christ; although the same authority says,—"Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosever loveth and maketh a lie." (Rev. 22:15.)
2.—It teaches that the "moral and social welfare of our race" may be promoted without Christianity,—by a mongrel "co-operation,'' where there is no Christian and ministerial fellowship, and, of course, where there is no fellowship with Christ, nor communion with the Holy Spirit. And if this "welfare of our race" can be promoted without Christian and ministerial fellowship, then it is effected without faith, without love or good works, without Christ, without the Holy Spirit, and without a saving knowledge of the truth. "Promoting the moral and social welfare of our race" implies deliverance from the present evil world, reconciliation to God; being found in Christ, not having our own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the Faith of Christ; that we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and that we have Christian and ministerial fellowship with Christ’s mystical body,—the Church. Without these things "our race" must always be "like the troubled sea when it cannot rest; whose waters cast up mire and dirt." Backsliding Covenanters may have anti-scriptural fellowship with the men of the world,—the "good men" of the world,—and with schismatics, in "casting up mire and dirt:" but the men of the world can have no communion with faithful Covenanters in "furthering the interest of the kingdom of Christ." Backsliding Covenanters may have fellowship with sectaries,—with "pious men of every name,"—in marring the purity and peace of the kingdom of Christ—in corrupting the doctrine, worship, government and discipline of the Church of God, and in breaking his covenant: but such persons,—"pious men of every name," cannot have fellowship with faithful Covenanters in "furthering the interests of the kingdom of Christ," in maintaining the unity of the church, or in keeping the everlasting covenant. There can be no true Christian communion between the sects and the witnesses in maintaining the unity of the Church of Christ; because it is impossible that there can be any scriptural co-operation, or working together, between the sects and the witnesses. To be a scriptural co-operation, all who co-operate must be one in doctrine, worship, government and discipline,—"all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among them; but that they be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment." (1 Cor. 1:10.) Anything short of this is unscriptural and sinful co-operation,—is not "working together," but against each other,—against the "moral and social welfare of our race."
4.—It is also implied in the sentence in question, that Covenanters and the so called "good men" of the world, "pious men of every name," can co-operate in promoting the welfare of our race, without making sinful compromises. This, however, is not the fact, never was nor ever can be. "Can two walk together except they be agreed?" Faithful Covenanters and the world are not, and never can be one until worldly men are transformed into Covenanters; then they can co-operate, or walk together, because agreed; and can agree because one in doctrine, worship, government and discipline: and they are all one in these respects, because they are all taught of the Lord; all are partakers of the nature of Christ, and of the Spirit of Christ. And when all are become one in Christ, there can be no parties or factions; and where there are no parties, there can be no compromises. All compromises made between Covenanters and the world are necessarily sinful, the same is true in regard to all compromises between the witnesses and the sects. Unity and uniformity are required by the law of Christ, often enjoined by his apostles; and the same is solemnly pledged in the Covenants of the Second Reformation. Were all Covenanters answerable to their holy profession, it would be impossible to find any one to desire a compromise with the world or sectarians; and none would for a moment entertain such a proposition. The utter corruption involved in all compromises with the world or the sects in religious or moral things, may be evinced by such considerations as the following:—(a) The man of the world has a carnal, but not a spiritual, nature. (b) The believer has both a carnal and a spiritual nature. (c) The carnal nature of the man of the world can co-operate with the carnal nature of the believer, because they are one. (d) The carnal nature of the worldly man cannot co-operate with the spiritual nature of the man of God; for they are not one, but two, separate and distinct, they are antagonisms. "For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other." (Gal. 5:17.) (e) It is impossible for the carnal or natural man to make any concessions in favor of that which is spiritual: "for the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned." They are foolishness unto him, if a Greek; a stumbling block, if a Jew. (1 Cor. 1:23.) (f) The carnal nature of the believer can make sinful compromises with the carnal man, because the moral character of the nature in both is the same: but the spiritual nature of the believer cannot make any compromises with the men of the world; neither can it co-operate with them; for "what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? what communion hath light with darkness? what concord hath Christ with Belial? what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?" (2 Cor. 6:14-16.) Thus it is apparent, on divine authority, that between the spiritual and carnal man there can be no co-operation in the prosecution of spiritual and moral objects; because there is no fellowship, no communion, no concord, no part, no agreement. Such is the emphatic decision of the Holy Spirit.
Mr. Shaw admits that the co-operation, which he "does not oppose," is not Christian or ministerial fellowship, is not a fellowship for which Christianity makes provision; then it is here admitted by him that Christian and ministerial fellowship is compromised for one that lays no claim to Christianity. But what Christianity does not enjoin, either expressly or impliedly, it prohibits: then in this co-operation, Mr. Shaw is giving up, compromising a fellowship that is commanded for one that is prohibited, a fellowship of divine origin for one of human invention. Is not this a sinful compromise? (g) Finally, Mr. Shaw teaches that co-operation with other denominations "in furthering the interests of the kingdom of Christ is lawful, ‘where no sinful compromises are required.’" No denomination is excepted. This is one of the heresies combated by George Gillespie, Hugh Binning, and all the learned and godly men called Protestors, and against which the Covenants, National and Solemn League were framed and erected as standing public barriers. These famous Covenants continue to this day as bulwarks of defence against all the assaults and intrigues of anti-Christ: pillars of light to guide the weary pilgrim through the wilderness. It is fondly hoped that even Mr. Shaw, through the grace of the Most High "will not suffer himself, by whatsoever combination, persuasion or terror, to be divided from that blessed union and conjunction" contemplated in those solemn deeds.
And now, when an "overwhelming majority" of his brethren have virtually disowned those scriptural documents; when some of his brethren wish them "buried with the body of Moses," vilify them as "long since rotten," with which they desire to have "no more to do than with a covenant of Germany," &c., does it not seem as if our angry Lord were about to take the covenanted inheritance from the natural heirs, and give it to others? Our fathers’ covenant God "is able, even of stones to raise up children to Abraham." When the levity, ribaldry and other concomitants of the scenes enacted in Pittsburgh, May, 1871, occur to the mind and depress the heart, it is refreshing to find in the pages of a secular magazine such "honorable mention" of our Covenants as the following:—"It was a covenant (the Solemn League) to defy papacy and prelacy, and to maintain the church of the Scripture: but it was, too, the appeal of a free people against the claims of every form of despotism. Nor can it be doubted that this fervid outbread of independent thought helped largely to rouse the people of England, and to secure the liberties of Europe and America, the signal for a revolution whose waves are still swelling over the earth." (See Harper’s New Monthly for December, 1872, p. 106)
Paul says,—"We can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth:" and John says,—"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth:. . . . we ought to be fellow-helpers to the truth."
THE Reformation Presbytery, at a meeting held on the 4th of October, 1871, at Northwood, Logan County, Ohio, having taken under serious consideration the duty of our time and place; and having sought direction from Zion’s Lawgiver, were unanimous in the conviction that the present was "a time to speak." Accordingly the following preamble and resolution were adopted with perfect unanimity.
"WHEREAS, the knowledge and love of a Covenanted Work of Reformation in the British Isles and in these United States, seem to have departed in great measure from the mind and heart of the present generation, and,
WHEREAS, that work, which this court believes to have been and still to be "the cause of God," has lately received at the hands of some of its professed friends, a deeper wound than any inflicted by its open enemies for a period of more than two hundred years. Therefore,
RESOLVED, that the Moderator and Clerk be, and they hereby are, appointed a committee to prepare a short vindication of that cause, and have the same published at their earliest convenience."
The edition of the committee’s work having been soon exhausted, and defection progressing with accelerated motion, especially from the impulse which it received by the action at Pittsburgh in 1871; as also, honest persons, "walking in darkness," earnestly desiring to procure a copy of the work; the Presbytery, at a meeting in Butler Co., Pa., August 26th, 1878, appointed another committee to "republish A Short Vindication, &c., with such revisions and additions as they shall judge necessary."
In attempting to perform the duty assigned us by the Presbytery, we submit some observations and make some concessions.
Our beneficent Creator, when he made man, in order to enhance the creature’s enjoyment, took Adam into a new relation by covenant; for the creature’s happiness, so far as his interest is contemplated, is the immediate object of all covenant transactions between God and man. This is equally true of the Covenant of Works and of the Covenant of Grace,
Since our fall in Adam, 1 Cor. 15:22, our supreme felicity and highest dignity result from relation to God by our being taken within the bond of the Covenant of Grace; and this is true of individual and social man. So thought the Psalmist; for he says of this covenant, "It is all my salvation and all my desire." 2 Sam. 22:5. And the same is true of nations, "Happy is that people whose God is the Lord." Ps. 144:15.
It is competent to collective bodies of people as well as individuals to "take hold of God’s covenant," Is. 56:4. A family, church or nation, being a moral person, has a warrant from God to enter into his covenant. Deut. 29:12. And all individuals, families, churches or nations that refuse to do so, he expressly disowns. They are Lo-ammi, "not my people." Hos. 1:9. They are "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise." Eph. 2:12. And since this is true of all who reject the offer of the gospel, "They are not my people;" how great is the guilt of those who violate the covenant! By the infidelity of a wife to her husband, our gracious God often teaches us how to estimate breach of covenant with him.
Moreover, God has endowed man with power to "bind his soul with a bond." Num. 30:2; and more, to bind others. Deut. 5:2, 8; and he commands us to exercise this power; for the first precept of the moral law "requires us to know and acknowledge the Lord (Jehovah) to be the true God and our God." Provision has been made in our social and moral nature for the use of this divine ordinance. All nations, barbarous or civilized, for confirmation, resort to oaths, vows, lots, and covenants. "Men verily swear," not Jews and Christians only; and we read of "a man’s covenant." Heb. 6:16, Gal. 3:15. Indeed the formation, as well as the continuance of human society, depends upon the right use of these securities. They are the cords and bands which the one Lawgiver has ordained to secure his own glory and the welfare of mankind.
All the foregoing principles, and others allied to them, pervade the Holy Scriptures as abstract truth: but that our hearts may be impressed and our lives influenced by them, they are largely exemplified in the history of God’s people throughout the Bible. We are thus compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses, many of whom have been martyrs all along, from righteous Abel till the present time. Heb. 11, Rev. 2:18. Abstract principles, inspired truth without application, avails nothing to change the character of fallen man. Sinners must "see the good works" of believers to be influenced for their spiritual advantage. "I will shew thee my faith by my works." Matt. 5:16, Jas. 2:18.
All reformations, by which true religion and liberty have been recovered and secured among mankind, have resulted from "taking hold of God’s Covenant of Grace." The history of continental and insular Europe demonstrates the truth of this statement. But in no nation since the time of the apostles have any people in the symbols of their faith and life, attained so near to the Supreme Standard, the Bible, as the church and kingdom of Scotland. Their Covenants, National and Solemn League, are standing monuments of the erudition that framed them, and of the piety, integrity and patriotism of those who swore and subscribed them. Nevertheless, from a view of the imperfection still attaching to the people of God in this life, we readily make the following concessions:—
No symbols of faith and order framed by uninspired men are faultless—much less infallible, either in substance or form: otherwise they would not be subordinate. Divine truth is the sole ground of saving faith, and is not to be confounded with Terms of Communion, as ignorance and presumption commonly do. Again, the testimony of Christ’s witnesses, in all its integral parts, is always and necessarily progressive until it shall have been finished. Even their statements of doctrine, their abstract and distinctive principles may, and often must be restated in diversified language, to meet the evershifting position and subtle sophisms of adversaries. Also, our Covenants, National and Solemn League, may and ought to be renewed—not that they have become old, as many say; but that they are to be owned as obligatory upon us, and a sense of their permanent obligation deepened upon our own souls, and exhibited to others by the solemnity of an oath. Ps. 119:106. It follows, of course, that neither we nor the Reformed Presbytery, while humbly aiming at fidelity to our Covenanted Cause, lay claim to that perfection peremptorily denied to all others. (See West. Con. of Faith, Ch. 31: Sec. 4.)
In consistency with the foregoing concessions, however, we recognize the paramount obligation of the injunction of Zion’s Lawgiver upon His disciples, and especially upon those who bear office, that the stewards in his house be found faithful in vindicating his rights when assailed. Rev. 2:10, 18. But there are so many parties—and still increasing, who lay claim not merely to a share in the covenanted inheritance, but to be, and to be accounted exclusive heirs and proprietors, that the task is rendered the more difficult to trace the line of entail with such precision as to be intelligible and directive to sincere but bewildered inquirers. Nevertheless, it is of the utmost importance to the honor of our Captain and our own safety that we be able to identify and interpret the inscriptions on the Banner of the Covenant. The developments of the past seven years, when the first edition of this pamphlet was issued, have tended still further to deface those inscriptions. About that time a note of warning was given—a timely note, and seemingly earnest; that danger was to be apprehended from the displaying of fake colors, and insidious calls to muster under them. We heard from various quarters the cry,—"‘maintain the truth,—stand up for the principles of the Second Reformation:’ and yet many of those who are the most loud in uttering this cry, appear desirous to bury in oblivion those imperishable national and ecclesiastical deeds, by which the church and kingdom of Scotland became ‘married to the Lord.’" It was well-known to the same party in Scotland that the Pittsburgh bond was, in fact, "the substituting of a purely American Covenant for the British Covenants;" and at the same time an earnest hope was expressed that the New American Covenant "would not be made a term of Communion"—"no professed simplification or abbreviation on the terms, it was also hoped, would be attempted." It appears, however, that the "rambling rhetoric" and worse logic of an American correspondent and other coadjutors, if they have not satisfied honest critics, have so far prevailed as to put to silence all "full and free testimony-bearing" against existing and increasing defection.
Next to our natural depravity, the primary, radical and continued cause of defection and apostasy is in the fundamental and erroneous assumption,—That abstract doctrine is the sole ground of church fellowship. Against this pernicious heresy a most explicit and potent testimony is exhibited in our Solemn League, the principal and declared object of which was to "bring the churches of the three kingdoms to the nearest uniformity." How is this to be effected?—By the Solemn League simply? No, the framers of that grand document were not simpletons; but they thereby solemnly pledged themselves to carry out its provisions practically by "one Confession of Faith," &c. They regarded the supreme rule—the Bible.
The baleful heresy to which we have now adverted, first appeared in the religious practice of Cain and Abel. They agreed in the abstract principle that they ought to worship God—and more, that Jehovah is the only object of lawful worship. The brothers, however far they agreed in theory—in abstract principle, differed altogether in practice; yes, even in their practical piety. "Cain’s works were evil"—even his religious services—these emphatically, Gen. 4:5, "and his brother’s righteous." The brothers had different views of God’s law and covenant, and of the obligation of each; and their practice differed accordingly. The Pharisees agreed with our Lord and afterwards with Paul, that the Old Testament was the word of God; but they differed widely in the application.
Our brethren told us, and often asserted with emphasis in 1832,—"We do not differ in principle, we differ ONLY in the application of principle." Disruption necessarily followed.
Next to the Public Resolutions of 1650, by which the Act of Classes was annulled and the enemies of the Covenants readmitted to civil and military offices; the New American Covenant tends to overthrow all the monuments and bury all the attainments of the Reformation. These consequences were foreseen by remonstrants. Many of these openly declared that if the new bond should be made a condition of fellowship, they would leave the body. In dread of this threatened revolt, we heard some of the ministers, when the insertion of the bond in the Terms was pressed in Synod, assign as a reason of their opposition to the measure, that if it were done by Synod, "they would lose the best of their people"! By the policy of delay the leaders have succeeded within a period of seven years in "wearing out" the patience and faith of early remonstrants. The opposition at Sharon, Iowa, 1878, to the change in their fourth Term of Communion was feeble, as contrasted with the outcry against the Bond, the adoption of which made the change in their Terms necessary. Yes, the stifling of convictions blunts spiritual sensibilities.
The church guides have not furnished her children with the documents necessary to an intelligent and faithful adherence to the Covenants and Testimony of their fathers. Hence most of the professed members, elders, and ministers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, so called, are shamefully ignorant of her distinctive principles and order. Consequently many, if not a majority of those who swore the American Covenant thought they were in very deed renewing the British Covenants. The framers of that perfidous bond employed such ambiguous language as to admit of two or more interpretations. The illiterate and confiding members were thus induced unwittingly to act in implicit faith—to "believe as the church believes." We know this to be a matter of fact.
Now we would ask any honest person to ponder such questions as these:—Did the minister mean to renew the Covenants who would "not name the National Covenant of Scotland (in the New Bond) any more than a Covenant of Germany"? Did he own the covenants who "would cut loose from them"? Was he "as much attached to the covenants of his ancestors as any," who said, "The covenants are not the link uniting us with the Church of the Reformation"? Could he swear the Bond "in judgment" to whom "much of the old Covenants was incomprehensible"? or, did he wish them renewed, while wishing them "buried with the body of Moses"? Was he intending to renew the Covenants, who, as chairman of a committee to consider objections to the American Covenant, when informed that "eleven Sessions had voted against its adoption—opposed any amendments"? Did the ruling elder intend to renew the Covenants who dreaded "stumbling American applicants for membership by the fellowship of a foreign element, connected with the governments of the old world"? These are samples, and only samples, of the sentiments expressed and the feelings of detestation and disgust in other ways visibly manifested towards those Covenants, which were said to be renewed in their Bond!
In view of such facts—such sentiments publicly uttered—such ignorance displayed by some, and obloquy poured upon our Covenants by others is it credible that a Synod which could tolerate and sanction all this, intended to renew them? No, it is utterly incredible. The very opposite intention was clearly and forcibly expressed by wishing, "as much as possible to consign them to oblivion"! But hitherto this object has been impossible. And now that the Synods in Scotland and Ireland have for years practically endorsed the transactions at Pittsburgh, 1871, the sacrilegious attempt to bury our Covenants becomes more formidable, and by some may yet be considered possible. Yet we firmly believe that, though "Gebal and Ammon, &c., conspire to help the children of Lot," their enterprise shall prove abortive, Ps. 83:7-8. The co-operation of Prelates, Arians, Universalists, &c., on a common public platform for effecting national and other reforms, is not the Lord’s way, nor likely to be crowned with success. "The Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still." Is. 30:7.
All who are capable of intelligently estimating the provisions of the New American Covenant, and of comparing it with the National and Solemn League, will readily discover, that so far from being in harmony, they are in some of their articles, and these the most important, not only inconsistent, but positively antagonistic. Whereas our Covenants are founded upon God’s law and covenant, the Pittsburgh Bond offers violence to both. Since the "Serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety," neither error nor sin is advocated under these names. Some truth must be mingled with error to give the latter currency. All systems of false religion and worship, Popery, Prelacy, &c, are exemplifications of this mode of deception. Both literal and spiritual harlotry have been, and still are, perpetrated under the guise of piety. Prov. 7:10, 14. The sound principles contained in the Pittsburgh Bond cannot sanctify its intentional omissions or gross error. Prelacy, "which is but another name for Popery," is not so much as named among the organized systems of hostility to Christ and his witnesses. Nor is the great principle of national covenanting inculcated. These we notice as samples of "some cardinal principles" pressed for recognition by some members at the time, but rejected by an "overwheming majority." That majority did not desire a "civil sanction of the true religion." Earth’s politics, in the light of the nineteenth century, demands that nations shall not discriminate, that all religions shall be "equal before the law," Christ and Barabbas, Christ and Belial! 2 Cor. 6:15. This is part of the new divinity embodied in the "New American Covenant," negatively.
But again, positively, This document takes the jurant bound to "maintain Christian friendship with pious men of every name, and to feel and act as one with them." This is in direct opposition to the sixth article of the Solemn League, which they were ostensibly and, in the view of simple ones, actually renewing. It is more—it is in direct conflict with divine prohibition. (Exod. 34:12). We anticipate the objection that "Pious men" are different from idolators. Very true, but where is the test of piety? The only test conceivable is to be found in the system professed by those pious men, which system these people are supposed to reject because of its errors. By this provision of the Bond, therefore, the leaders commit a three-fold iniquity: they violate the divine law, and Solemn League, as also deceive and mislead the honest and unwary.
Moreover, this impious and perfidious Bond militates against the perfection of the moral law. These New Covenanters bind themselves "to regulate all their civil relations" not by the law of God, but by their undefined "loyalty to the Lord." Even the Reformed Presbyterian Witness noticed the ambiguity—the "want of sufficient point" in the Bond. "To one form of expression he strongly objected, viz.: recognizing ALL THAT IS MORAL in the Covenants." And he forcibly adds, "Why, with such a qualifying expression, we might recognize any Covenant." Yes, the Koran of Mahomet or the Book of Mormon, for both contain not a few sound principles. Perhaps, however, the most deceitful as well as equivocal language in the New Covenant is where, in the third article, they "pledge themselves to support whatever is for the good of the commonwealth, and to pursue this object in all things not forbidden by the law of God." It is questionable if the archives of Jesuitism itself contain a concatenation of words more ambiguous, more deceitful, sophistical and impious, or which are calculated (we do not say intended) to aim obliquely a fatal stab at the perfection and authority of the law of God, which law these same words are used seemingly to conserve. Like Elymas, the sorcerer, they are words "full of all subtilty and all mischief."
Preparatory to covenanting with God, publicly and socially, the scriptural examples of Moses, Joshua, Nehemiah and others were followed by our reforming progenitors, in making a free confession of sins, and especially laying emphasis on the breaches of covenant. Now, in this important part of the "solemn work" we look in vain for specifications of covenant violation. A general confession of "their forgetfulness of the obligations laid upon them by the covenants of their fathers" is made, and the uncomfortable topic at once dismissed. They talk glibly of the "accepted manuals of the faith of the church—accepted in substance and outline" only; for it is notorious that among them these manuals have gone into desuetude. These formularies framed at Westminster were adopted by the General Assembly of Scotland, with this explanation: "That this shall be no prejudice to the order and practice of this kirk, in such particulars as are appointed by the books of discipline." Such as a fast before the Lord’s Supper, the using of tokens, etc. But, indeed, these New Covenanters have ceased to regard the aforesaid manuals either in substance or outline. Were their church-guides "careful to keep the oath of God," the oath of the Covenants, which some affected to renew? Had they observed the Rule on Occasional Hearing, the Proclamation of Banns, the Burial of the Dead, the Manner of Public Praise? No; these and other practical traits of the witnessing church have been buried by an "overwhelming majority." Did the New Covenanters repudiate their "Oath of Fidelity" framed at Sharon, Iowa, 1863, which they said was "not an oath of allegiance?" Did they make confession to the Lord God of Israel of their manifold sins and breaches of covenant by concurrence of ministers and members in the late civil war? On the contrary, many of them were eager to display their loyalty by volunteering to "enforce a Constitution and execute laws" against the immorality of which they had solemnly protested.
Without farther specification of covenant violation and violence done to the divine law by these former brethren, we simply ask, "Is it creditable that a party guilty of so many flagrant transgressions of their own solemn vows were sincerely intending to renew them? If any additional evidence were needed of "deep dissimulation" on the part of the leaders in the "solemn work," (?) at Pittsburg, May 27th, 1871, it becomes cumulative in procuring a Civil Charter, by the stipulations of which, as a Synod, (quoad civilia) they pledge themselves not to give "any instructions to their trustees repugnant to the Constitution and laws of the United States," &c. In this impious, because voluntary, surrender of the intrinsic liberty of the church to Erastian control by the state, there is also a surrender on the one side, and an invasion on the other of the Mediator’s rights. A thoughtful and conscientious person would naturally ask,—What temptation impelled to such complicated iniquity? Well, the answer is disclosed in the historic fact, "But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked." Deut. 32:15. By many years of temporizing policy and worldly conformity this party had increased in numbers and wealth. Anticipating the possibility, and even the probability, of opposition arising among themselves against defection, they cunningly placed the whole body, as a civil corporation, under both state and national authority, for the sole purpose of securing the property, especially that which had been donated by real Covenanters. And now, as a consequence, the members of that degenerated body find themselves, as it were, bound hand and foot; so that if they are constrained by conscience to a separation it must be at a sacrifice of "all things devoted." Therefore we sometimes hear that the only tie among them as a term of communion, especially in cities, is "the brick and mortar!"
We are well aware that in each of the three Synods of Scotland, Ireland and America there is, as heretofore, a reclaiming minority both of officers and members who do not actively "consent to the counsel and deed" of the majority; but as they all fraternize, and as we know that Zion’s Lawgiver dispenses rewards and penalties to moral persons according to the character of majorities, we cannot, in faithfulness to Christ and backsliders, exempt our Scottish and Irish brethren from complicity in the sin and guilt of their trans-Atlantic associates.
Our work as a committee of the Reformed Presbytery is very similar to that of our fathers, transmitted to us in the "Informatory Vindication." It is a matter of historical fact—a fact calculated to stir us up to emulation—that if dates and names of persons and places were changed, our moral identity might be ascertained. We aim, as they did, at informing the ignorant, repelling false imputations, and defending our covenanted reformation. The three greatest enemies to truth and godliness, we are assured by divine testimony, are the devil, the world and the flesh; and Christ’s witnesses are assailed by them all. It has been truly said, "The world is a great enemy to religion."
To indicate some instances of worldly conformity and mark some steps of defection from our "covenanted unity and uniformity," it is necessary to take a retrospect of our history for many years: for we did not all at once reach our present condition of sinful ignorance and manifold apostasy. Towards the end of the last century some of our fathers fell into that snare framed by United Irishmen, and within our own time sons of the Covenant have identified with the Evangelical Alliance, and the Pan-Presbyterian Council. The Christmas-tree has been placed in the house of worship by the cooperation of a professed Covenanted pastor; another "attended one of the Sabbath evening services of a priest," (and published the fact!) "and was impressed with the belief that Christ was truly worshipped in rites that were Roman in form, but Scriptural in substance:" and yet another placed a cross in the basement of the church, and in such conspicuous position as to arrest the attention of the children of the Sabbath school on entering the apartment. And when a member of the congregation on entering, moved with righteous indignation, asked the pastor why he had brought a cross into that place? the answer was such that the member rejoined—"Why, there is not a Romish priest in the city, who would not give the same, or a similar answer!" Now we solemnly ask, Is this the way to fulfil the obligations of the National Covenant? Are these the means by which those pledged to the Pittsburg Bond, "endeavor to extirpate Popery" according to the Solemn League? And since such superstitious and idolatrous actions and practices are tolerated if not justified by that ambiguous and perfidious Bond, how can any person believe that it harmonizes with our Covenants? or that those who took it intended to renew them? The very idea is preposterous. As well attempt to combine darkness and light.
Who would have thought, half a century ago, that the Reformed Presbyterian Church could have degenerated to her present condition? torn, as she is, by her temporizing leaders into disgraceful fragments. Ambitions to appear in the front rank of demagogues in church and state, who loudly advocate reform; when once confederated with these ephemeral actions, they have lost sight themselves, and led others to forget many of the Scriptural landmarks which the fathers had set. Had they continued united on the broad and firm basis of our Covenants; O, what an influence for good their combined power might have exerted in the British Isles and the United States! But this honor they have forfeited.
While in Scotland the ministry were permitting their Testimony (such as it then was,) to "fall into abeyance," they were at the same time, solemnly pledging themselves by vote to "endeavor to bring the practice into agreement with the Testimony!" The majority afterwards threw off the mask, which no longer concealed their hypocrisy, and went into the Free Church in 1876. In the United States the minority had also departed from the church’s covenanted constitution in 1833, after years of dissimulation as in Scotland. But whereas the majority in Scotland pretended to "bring the practice into agreement with the Testimony," the minority of 1833 insisted on bringing the Testimony into harmony with their practice. They said to the majority, "We differ not in principle, but only in the application of principle. There is no relinquishment of any principle for which the martyrs bled and died." But who may not perceive the fallacy, the deception involved? Is a principle of any use, however sound, unless it is applied? and as a condition of fellowship, the mode of application be mutually recognized? Our Covenanted Reformation contemplated equally the church and the state: or in the words of our ancestors—"a gospel ministry and a scriptural magistracy." When Christ’s witnesses are seduced to coalesce with a corrupt church or state, in overt acts defined and specified, their testimony is destroyed; and their declared adherence to abstract truth, such as the Lordship of Christ only aggravates their guilt. To such, He Himself says, "Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am . . . . . And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" John 13:13. Luke 6:46. Oh, that covenant-breakers would consider how they shall answer, ere it be too late!
But fidelity to this Lord, and charity towards some who once were zealous vindicators of his rights, constrain us to remind them of their former position and published sentiments, not that there is comfortable hope of their return to that honorable position; but that a view of their inconstancy may tend to the stability of others.
In December, 1830, under the caption, "Sketch of a Covenanter," Rev. (now Dr.) Thomas Houston described that personage thus: "Instead of every man having a right to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience, he" (the said Covenanter) "believes that no man has a right to make his conscience the rule in such a case. . . . there can be no such thing as a right to do wrong"—sound doctrine. In July, 1833, he sanctioned the following statement, "McMillan and his compeers. . . . nobly sealed their attachment to reformation principles by the renovation of the covenants at Auchinsaugh," and in the next month’s issue of the Covenanter, in an "Exposure of Gross Misrepresentation," he assures the public, "That every minister and member of the Reformed Church is required to adhere strictly to every article contained in our standards." Alas! where are those ministers and members now? It was a matter of just complaint at that date, that in other bodies "grievous error and corrupt practices were covered with the mask of an orthodox profession," and what was as bad, if not worse in Mr. Houston’s estimation—"The vague and general declarations of public bodies seemed designed by their framers to embrace persons of very different religious sentiments and practice in the same communion." "On the very same ground," said he, "any thing may be adopted by the Church—the creed of Papists or Unitarians, or the Koran of Mahomet." This is correct reasoning and obviously applicable to the New American Covenant, which in the opinion even of those who framed and swore it, admits, nay, requires to be "supplemented."
On a subsequent occasion (1837) when Dr. John Paul, amongst other departures from covenanted truth, urged in the Irish Synod the removal of the Auchensaugh Bond from the Terms of Communion, Mr. Houston stood forth in opposition to the Doctor, using sound arguments against the proposed change. He viewed the Bond as one of the "landmarks erected by the fathers. The objections to it were old ones that had been often urged and often refuted. To erase it from the Terms would inflict an incalculable injury upon posterity. To be consistent they should at once give up with the binding obligation of the Covenants, and say, like those in America, who boast of superior light—not that we recognize the obligation of the Covenants, but that we highly appreciate the federal deeds of our fathers. With all his might he would oppose the amendment, (of Dr Paul). He would ever resist any alteration in respect of the Auchensaugh Bond, regarding the objection laid against it, as in reality, aimed at the Covenants themselves!" Time has confirmed the truth of Mr. Houston’s reasoning, and demonstrated his own inconsistency. Witness the sequel of "Dervock Renovation"!
We now produce a few extracts from the speech of Rev. (now Dr.) James Dick delivered in Synod at the same time, 1837. He began by candidly stating that in Scotland, "the discussion (of this question) had been carried on for years. It was characterized by painful excitement and agitation." This admission by Mr. Dick, we here remark, shows there was then some remaining vitality in the body. This was made manifest by the faithful conduct of "the most aged minister, a venerable man," said the speaker, "who considered the Synod guilty of a breach of faith, and a departure from former covenanted attainments. The consequence was that he separated from the Synod, and still maintained a separate standing." Mr. Dick said, moreover, "If there be reason for treating the Auchensaugh Deed with indignity; then it is a reason why the Act and Testimony, the Confession of Faith and the Larger Catechism, should be treated with indignity too, and all reference to them omitted in our Terms of Communion.—If we are to loose a bound up law and testimony: then it is better at once to give away our Standards than to fasten on the Auchensaugh Deed, and through it assail their integrity."
These are potent arguments—"sound speech that cannot be condemned,"—uttered by two ministers yet living [in 1879], who nobly stood in the breach in a time of "painful excitement and agitation" when they were both in the prime of life and well knew whereof they affirmed. Doubtless at that date any suggestion from any quarter that a time might arrive when they in their declining years would practically renounce these Scriptural and conclusive arguments, they would have resented the insinuation with the indignant thought of one who said, "But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing?" 2 Kings 8:13. Mr. Houston would "ever resist any alteration." Did he remember this public, solemn and emphatic assertion and promise, when he consented to the mutilation of the fourth Term by removing said Bond? And did Mr. Dick "assail the integrity of the Standards" when co-operating in that unfaithful act of mutilation? These questions involve their own answers to the conviction of any intelligent reader. Hazael considered that if he ever acted as Elisha predicted he would, he ought to be viewed, if not treated, as a dog. Far be it from us to view or treat those now gray-headed doctors of divinity with injustice or undue severity; but we may be allowed to remind the reader that Isaiah compares unfaithful prophets to dogs—"dumb dogs that cannot bark." Paul, also, when counseling gospel ministers, forewarns of danger, not only from "grievous wolves," but that "of their own selves would men arise, speaking perverse things." Acts 20:29. Nor did Brown, McWard and even the "amiable Renwick" think it inconsistent with charity to apply such inspired characteristics to the Indulged and other ministers who "shunned to declare all the counsel of God." They believed, as we do, that "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful." Prov. 27:6.
To let the reader see with his own eyes that breaches of covenant and mutilation of the subordinate standards of our Covenanted Reformation are not peculiar to professed Covenanters in the British Isles, we solicit his attention to contemporary and similar courses of defection in these United States. Besides the disruption in Philadelphia, August 7th, 1833, which was the natural result of changing the Judicial Testimony and Terms of Communion in 1806-7; the majority, still cleaving to these same mutilated symbols of faith and practice, continued to degenerate, and, as time elapsed, with accelerating motion.
Mingling with the heathen corrupted God’s people in the antediluvian world (Gen. 6:2), and the inspired history assures us that the same woeful effects proceeded from the same cause ever afterwards. The intimate—the inseparable connection between cause and effect in this case is so evident that even a heathen writer (Menander) embodied it in an aphorism: "Evil communications corrupt good manners." We are all so morally depraved since the fall of Adam that even heathens acknowledge the need of reformation; and this necessity is more clearly perceived in the light of Revelation. Yet, even with the Bible in our hands, we are inclined to methods of reform devised by ourselves, rather than to those devised by infinite wisdom and mercy. This sinful propensity has developed itself among the members of God’s covenant society in all ages. To counteract its operation, any serious reader of the Scriptures will discover, to have been the chief labor of the prophets and apostles; "Come out from among them" is a familiar cry.
Subsequent to our woeful division of 1833, to which "mingling with the heathen" naturally conduced, it soon became manifest that the majority were not free from this contamination. Many of the ministers had become identified in combination with a party known as the Colonization Society. Indeed, this Society had received the endorsement of the whole General Synod in 1828. Most of the ministers, however, had transferred their patronage to its rival, the Abolition Society, within the six years preceding; and when the Old Light Synod met in Pittsburg, 1834, only one minister, Rev. John Cannon, continued to advocate the older society. The unbrotherly feeling displayed at that time disclosed the strong hold which these rival associations had taken upon the affections of opposing parties. Both seemed to have lost sight of the great objects for which the Synod had met—to reexhibit the church’s Testimony in its integrity, and strengthen the ties of brotherhood which had been so violently disrupted the preceding year. Besides the two parties in factious opposition, there was a minority in Synod who could not sympathize with either party. These considered that both the Scriptures and our solemn vows prohibit our association for reform with the "known enemies of truth and godliness" to which class many Abolitionists belonged. This minority desired Synod to hear and answer the complaints of memorialists against the growing disorder of occasional hearing: for there were still some of acknowledged "inflexibility of character," who conscientiously opposed that "inconsistent" and suicidal practice. One member [i.e., Thomas Sproull] distinguished himself by expressing the hope that the court would leave this matter to be regulated by the Sessions, "and to him they agreed." A very respectful and argumentative paper on the question was "returned" to the commissioner by whom it had been presented and unsuccessfully advocated. Thus the Synod implicitly licensed infraction of long existing law. Indeed, the recent introduction of the Sabbath school in some places had prepared the way for the removal of the church’s previous regulation.
The popular excitement on the question of slavery continued to increase. Covenanters were, from principle, opposed to slavery. Only one minister’s position, so far as was known, could be questioned, and he soon left the body. Some others, carried away on the surging waves of popular commotion, had caused much dissatisfaction by attending conventions over the country in the interest of emancipation, to the negect of pastoral duties, especially to the sick and dying. At next meeting of Synod (1836), in Allegheny, a large majority desired the patronage formerly pledged to Colonization transferred to the "Abolition Society." This object was opposed by the minority, who judged the tacking of the church to the tail of any voluntary association "composed of persons of all religions and of no religion" as derogatory to Synod’s dignity, as well as a violation of our solemn Covenants. Yielding to the pressure of the minority, which, at that date, was considerable, the majority consented to change the phrase "Abolition Society" to "Cause of Abolition." As the meetings of the supreme judicatory were biennial the Synod next met October, 1838, in New York city. The seething pot of party politics continued to boil with greater violence, and the circulating waves of the maelstrom, instead of repelling or frightening Christ’s professing witnesses, were attracting some of the ministers through their sympathy with political parties. Grieved by the palpable aberrations of their official guides, many of the people gave expression to both their sentiments and feelings in documents laid before Synod. We had never before seen the table of the highest court of the church so crowded with documents from ministers, elders and members. The captions of those papers covered almost the entire vocabulary of documents on discipline—protests, appeals, complaints, remonstrances, memorials, &c. We naturally speak strongly when we feel deeply. Some of those documents, while perfectly respectful to Synod, emphasized the sentiments of their authors. This fact roused the passions of leaders in defection to such degree that some of them resorted to physical violence against the persons of more than one of the complainants! Such treatment of the minority in the persons of some of their number led to the conclusion that reformation in the body had become hopeless; yet, as the minority had not hitherto used all the means supplied by Presbyterian law for reclaiming backsliding brethren, with desponding hearts they resolved to continue in that fellowship until next synodic meeting, that they might bring all matters at issue before the supreme judicatory in the most concise and comprehensive form. Accordingly, when Synod next met, in Allegheny, June 1840, a preamble and three resolutions were submitted to the court near the close of the proceedings. These proceedings were, indeed, conducted with less violence and personal abuse than in New York at the previous meeting; but with no less determination of the majority to "go on frowardly in the way of their heart." This purpose was at once disclosed by a motion—disorderly offered, but instantly passed,—to lay the "firebrand on the table"! This action, of course, put an end to contending by the minority in that irreclaimable body. Seven years’ contendings they deemed sufficient.
Acting on this deliberate judgment, after some consultation by members of the minority, whose homes were hundreds of miles apart, two ministers and three elders agreed to constitute a presbytery on original and independent ground. This they did, June 24th, 1840, assuming the historic name—Reformed Presbytery.
As soon as the fact of this presbytery’s organization became publicly known, its members were denounced from pulpit and press as guilty of "schism"—not in the Scriptural, but in the stereotyped sense of Antichrist. Their characters were assailed (as usual in like cases,) as "troublers of the church," "following devisive courses," "leaving Synod in a disorderly manner;" "without paying their tavern bills," etc., etc. And as if chargeable with these and other sins and crimes, the two ministers were pursued with censure—the sentence of suspension; an act which we thought then, and believe still, not one minister then living considered either just or valid! Such is our charitable and firm conviction.
When the Reformed Presbytery stood forth in self-defense through the press, and more especially in vindication of injured truth; persons in connection with the Synod were discharged from reading or circulating our publications under threat of church-censure: and too many honest people, and as sound in principle as ourselves, have been hindered all along from the use of the only evidence by which the charges above specified and others have been shown to be false and slanderous—every one of them.
The foregoing statements are made in order to a right understanding of some of those which follow. Paul says that in his time, and while he was in prison for his unyielding fidelity to Christ, "some preached Christ even of envy and strife, supposing to add affliction to his bonds;" but they failed of their object, for whether "of contention or of love, Christ was preached, and he therein rejoiced." Phil. 1:15. In like manner the members of the Reformed Presbytery sincerely rejoiced, and continue to rejoice in all the truth preached and printed by former brethren, as they do in its publication by other parties. Perhaps as much with a view to countermine the influence of the Reformed Presbytery among sound Covenanters, as from intelligent attachment to our Covenants, a sermon on this theme was given to the public. It will be noticed that the date of the published discourse is 1841, the very next year after our Presbytery’s organization. From this faithful document we make a few quotations which exhibit the sentiments taught by its author at the above date, and which may be profitably compared or contrasted with those of the same writer in 1871. At the former date he said "By the National Covenant our fathers laid Popery prostrate. By the Solemn League and Covenant they were successful in resisting prelatic encroachments and civil tyranny. By it they were enabled to achieve the Second Reformation. . . . . They were setting up landmarks by which the location and limits of the city of God will be known at the dawn of the millennial day. . . How can they be said to go forth by the footsteps of the flock, who have declined from the attainments, renounced the covenants and contradicted the testimony of ‘the cloud of witnesses’ . . . All the schisms (separations) that disfigure the body mystical of Christ . . . are the legitimate consequences of the abandonment of reformation attainments—the violation of covenant engagements." This is sound doctrine and historical truth combined. Again our author puts the important question, "Is it not unfaithfulness to reject the obligations of the covenants of former times?" Yes, we think so, when their objects are not yet reached; and moreover, that "Confession of sin, and especially the sins of covenant breaking should always accompany the renewal of our obligations." This is well said. Was it thought of at Pittsburgh, 1871? To good purpose he adds, "In the renewal of covenants there should be no abridgment of former obligations." And can this be denied?
Once more we quote,—"The opposition is not so much to covenanting, as it is to the covenants of our fathers, and to the permanence of their obligations." Then the author says emphatically and somewhat prophetically, "The church never will renew her covenants aright until she embraces in her obligations all the attainments sworn in the covenants, National and Solemn League. This was done in the renovation at Auchensaugh, in Scotland." Now we submit that no ingenuity can reconcile the sentiments just quoted with the position occupied by their author as leader in the solemnities of May 27th, 1871. Did they renew the Covenants "aright?" Were they renewed at all? or, as they were renewed at Auchensaugh? For the author’s own test of renewing them "aright" was that it be done as exemplified in 1712 at Auchensaugh. That faithful Bond, for more than a hundred and sixty years needed no supplementing; but the Pittsburgh Bond, by the admission of its friends, was defective, ambiguous—needing instant supplementing. And now after seven years of wrangling, Synod has awkwardly combined it with its fourth Term of Communion, which to some is, and to others is not, a condition of fellowship: that is, its place in the terms, as defined by a "resolution" of Synod, renders nugatory all their Subordinate Standards of fellowship.
The change effected in the Testimony and Terms, 1806-7, gave rise to "two manner of people," among whom schism continued to operate until it issued in the disruption of 1833. After that event, both parties still cleaving to the same mutilated Testimony, of course the schism continued to operate. A like cause produced similar effects in the Synods of Scotland and Ireland. Thus the lamentable fact has become evident that although some of these Synods keep up a sort of "fraternal relation," and all tenaciously cleave to the honorable historic name Reformed Presbyterian, and even to the still more honorable one of Covenanter: yet it is a well-known fact that they have become so demoralized that among all these parties, their abstract of Terms is practically disregarded. Hence, emigrants from the British Isles, on their arrival in the United States as Old Light Covenanters, readily coalesce with New Lights, United Presbyterians, &c., evidencing their total ignorance of the distinctive principles and usages of the church of their fathers, or an utter neglect to implement their solemn vows.
In the time of the late civil war the conflicting elements among the so-called Old Lights, the continued operation of "schism in the body," were often rendered manifest, evincing a general ignoring of all Terms of Communion among them. This is indeed a serious charge, but made with due deliberation. The evidence to substantiate it is so abundant and so manifold; and our space in this document so limited, that not even a tithe can be here adduced. We submit only a sample.
To encourage young men to volunteer as soldiers in the Union army, Rev. Samuel M. Willson quoted Jer. 48:10. "Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood." Rev. J.R.W. Sloane, D.D., then pastor of a congregation in the city of New York, exhorted the youth of his charge to show their loyalty by "entering into military association" with the Northern army; and afterwards, to prove his own patriotism declared that more young men had gone into the army from his congregation, than from any other in that city in proportion to numbers. On the other hand, while the son was thus emphatically illustrating their Terms of Communion, as he interpreted them; his aged father, Rev. William Sloane, then in Illinois, was "reasoning with them out of the Scriptures, opening and alleging" that the course inculcated by his son was at once a violation of the law of God and of their solemn covenant engagements. A convention of members, elders and ministers from several contiguous congregations in southern Illinois, met for the express purpose of discussing the question of the time,—"Can a Covenanter consistently join in military association with either of the belligerents?" Some of the timid brethren ventured to suggest, that their present duty was to betake themselves to the chambers of safety, &c. This was met by violent opposition—with such an outburst of passionate invective and menacing attitude by an elder, that the reverend old gentleman, Mr. Sloane, quietly remarked,—"We may need the civil power to keep order!" One short sentence was expressed on that occasion by Mr. Sloane which some then present will not soon forget. It was uttered in the form of interrogation, and doubtless, a deeply impressive sense on his enlightened conscience of the obligation of law and covenant. It comprehended the whole matter in dispute. It swept away all wrangling, subterfuge and sophism. It settled the question in the mind of any Covenanter who is what he professes. Mr. Sloane’s concise and conclusive argument was,—"When the Ammonites and Moabites are at war between themselves, what has Israel to do with their quarrel?"
It may be further evident, that no "fixed terms of communion" exist among these parties, especially since the late civil war, from the treatment of their members who survived and returned from the army. Some ministers and sessions, as in New York city and at Newcastle in Western Pennsylvania, refused to admit them to the Lord’s table until they would give satisfaction for breach of vows; whilst other ministers and sessions said,—"Instead of censure, we owe these brethren a vote of thanks!" The Pittsburgh Bond, in the light of the above and a multitude of similar facts, cannot be misinterpreted by any honest and intelligent Covenanter. It was obviously framed in such terms of ambiguity as to endorse or ignore such facts as we have only sampled above, and to cover up complicated iniquity from human inspection. This New American Covenant has abolished all ancient landmarks among its adherents, opened the floodgates for error and disorder, and is cited on Synod’s floor as authority for both.
Sinful ignorance of what the Lord wrought for our ancestors by delivering them, and us in their loins, Heb 7:9, 10, from Papal and Prelatic bondage, has been a prolific source of manifold defection from our covenanted reformation. The leaders of the people have not furnished them with authentic documents by which they might be instructed in the knowledge of the distinctive doctrines and usages of the R.P. Church. Only at the startling disclosures of 1833 were some awakened to the duty of supplying this defect; and an effort was made by the republication of the "Informatory Vindication" and the "Cloud of Witnesses." But how few are in possession even of these! The truth is that the official guides know as little of such books as the private members, and are equally unprepared to obey the divine injunction,—"Go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock;" and both ministers and people naturally prefer the "flocks of the companions." Song 1:7, 8. Hence the familiar compellations—"brother" such a one of the Methodist, Congregationalist, Universalist and other churches, with whom they have solemnly engaged to "maintain Christian friendship and to feel and act as one with them," especially on popular platforms avowedly for reformation, the necessity for which is loudly acknowledged by all parties.
Since the Pittsburgh Bond became operative the whole body has presented the appearance of "a city that is broken down and without walls." The hedge of disciple has in measure disappeared, except in cases of those who practically oppose defection. Heads of families may sometimes be exhorted, but they are not as formerly required, to keep up the worship of God in their families as a condition of enjoying sealing ordinances. This is what some have correctly designated a "heathenized church." Rev. 11:2. They have "simplified, abbreviated and Americanized" their Standards; but they are not yet short, simple, loose and general enough to suit the "advanced thought" and liberal views of such among them as Rev. James Kennedy, Rev. J.R. Thompson, or Elder John M’Donald; the last two of whom have publicly signified their desire to have the Terms of Communion reduced to three in number; and the last named, with equal publicity, has signified his hostility to any civil establishment of the Christian Church, exalted liberty of conscience as man’s rule in worship, and exemplified these principles by "waiting on the ministry" of Henry Ward Beecher! Oh, what has become of those noble and seemingly earnest sentiments uttered by him in former years before the Synod in Scotland? Those soul-thrilling facts and principles seem to have been since "consigned as much as possible to oblivion," that together with Covenants, Original Testimony, Auchensaugh Bond,etc., henceforth they may be discovered "only in the cabinet of the antiquary."
"The United States is a Christian nation and a Christian government," says Rev. T.P. Stevenson; and this assertion has been often made in the Christian Statesman. Dr. Thomas Sproull has convincingly proved the contrary; yet by the New American Covenant these two divines are in the same fellowship! Outside these new American and National Reform Covenanters this question of the moral and Christian character of the United States government admits of no dispute. Any unbiased reader may see this lamentable fact in the Presbyterian of Philadelphia, March, 1879, in the following words, "It is not surprising that our national government is looked upon in Great Britain as thoroughly infidel, and in the rest of Europe as hypocritical. An American Christian is constantly reproached with the statement that ‘Yours is the only infidel government on Earth. Your constitution does not only not recognize the existence of a God, but your rulers echo it in their utter disregard of all Christian sentiment and proprieties.’. . . The editor says the behavior of our rulers burys hope in the breasts of those in whom the fires of patriotism are kept alive. But for the Christian sentiment of the nation it (Congress) would be only an uncaged menagerie."—Such is the testimony of the Presbyterian, an exponent of that large and influential body. Surely the government needs reformation, and on a much higher plane than any contemplated by a self-styled "National Reform Association," and by quite different instrumentalities. Its reformation is impracticable, because it needs to be recast through the crucible and in the mould of the Bible.
When we were appointed a committee by the Reformed Presbytery to issue a second edition of "A Short Vindication, etc.," we were instructed both to revise the first, and also to make to it whatever additions we thought proper. While attempting to perform the work assigned, it was soon discovered that a book, as distinguished from a mere pamphlet, might be written. So many, so rapid and gross have been the steps of backsliding since the adoption of the Pittsburgh Bond and the publication of the first edition of the "Vindication," that in this one we could do little more than barely notice a sample of them. We know, and have long known, that "perilous times have come,"—perilous to "the testimony of Jesus," and to the faith and patience of his witnesses; and, excepting the "peril of the sword in the wilderness," that our case is similar to that of our fathers, especially in Renwick’s time. Even in his time there were (as we believe there are now) "many poor mourners in the mist what to do [i.e., confused], and with whom to join." Nor has the Reformed Presbytery been less subjected to the reviling, reproaches, misrepresentations and "contempt of the proud," than were our predecessors for the same cause. No sooner was the Reformed Presbytery organized, 1840, than it was confidently predicted, that "it would not long need a name!" Of course, "the wish was father to the thought." By the favorable providence of the Faithful and True Witness, the Presbytery still survives. By "right hand extremes, and left hand defections," within its own fellowship, it has been subjected to painful trials, just as in former times among our predecessors. Persons have acceded to our communion, and, notwithstanding the vigilance of office-bearers, afterwards discovered their ignorance or insincerity.
But in bringing our present work to a close, while aware of many objections to our position, we will do so by replying to only some of the most common, popular and plausible, as follows:—
1. "You think nobody right but yourselves." Just so; that is, in the points wherein others differ from us; otherwise we will only proclaim our own hypocrisy. We believe, and therefore speak.
2. "You think nobody will be saved but such as adopt your peculiar principles." This is an old objection. It was "cast in the teeth" of one of our martyred ministers, Mr. Donald Cargil, as he was "led as a lamb to the slaughter." He meekly answered, "No." "Well, and what more would you want than to be saved?" "I want a great deal more," was his simple reply, "I want Christ glorified on earth." He understood the first question of the Shorter Catechism, of which too many are ignorant to-day. "Man’s chief end is neither his salvation nor destruction." Rev. 4:11.
3. "Your principles are impracticable." If they are scriptural the objection is true in one sense, but false in another. Our Saviour told his real disciples—"Without me (separated from me) ye can do nothing." Jno. 15:5. This was Paul’s experience (Rom. 7:18), and he tells us that this is part of all believers’ experience. Gal. 5:17. On the other hand, if our distinctive principles are scriptural, as we believe them to be, they are certainly practicable to a true believer; for of such no impossibilities are required. 2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:13.
4. "You meddle with political matters;—preach the gospel and let civil government alone." We often meet this objection under the form of friendly advice; and we believe none is of deeper significance or more pregnant with consequences. (a) It confounds politics and civil government. (b) It separates between the gospel and civil government. (c) It excludes the Bible and its Author from the commonwealth. (d) It conducts us to infidelity and issues in blank atheism. But this objection involving, as it does, so much both of principle and practice, demands more consideration and a particular and intelligible answer. It is not true that we meddle with politics; for a Covenanter can affiliate with no existing political party because no party will consent to be governed by the Bible. The gospel, as we understand it, covers the whole of the Scriptures. Gen. 18:18, Gal. 3:8, Heb. 4:2. It is "another gospel" which excludes any part of the Bible. That we may be more fully understood, we assert that the Holy Scriptures are the only infallible rule to direct mankind in individual and social life: that all the lawful relations of this life are instituted, defined and limited in the Bible. We find in the Sacred Oracles that God has organized society in three, and only three departments, both for its conservation and reformation. These are the family, the church, and the state, the two latter being auxiliaries of the first—the church and civil commonwealth to be helpful to the family. The plain lesson of history and experience is, that insubordination in the family generates contumacy in the church, and issues in insurrection and rebellion in the state. If there be no "church in the house," there will be no godliness in the church, nor honesty without godliness in the state. To effect a real reformation then, these three divine ordinances are the proper instrumentalities to be employed—and no other. These have the promise of their Author to render them effectual. Prov. 22:6; 1 Tim. 4:16; Josh. 1:8. Of course, we cannot co-operate in the voluntary and irresponsible confederacies of our time, having but one condition of fellowship, and demanding a pledge of fidelity. To ask or give such pledge involves an insult offered to our Master, to whom alone our pledge has been previously given, that we will be governed by that law in His hand, which commands every duty and forbids every sin in all our relations. According to our interpretation of the gospel, therefore, we must have scriptural and definite views of the divine ordinance of civil government, while we do not "meddle with politics"—earth’s party politics, which disregard the Lord, His Anointed and His word.
5. "You will admit none to your communion but those who adopt your peculiar principles: and does it not follow that you account none to be Christians but yourselves? All others, by your close communion, you would shut out of heaven." We have given this objection in greater fulness than the preceding ones, because of the frequency and plausibility of its utterance by the generality of professors. Well, we readily admit the truth of the first part of the objection: but in the practice of restricted fellowship we are not peculiar, and we think consistency, common sense and honesty, justify this part of Christian practice. Nor does this practise involve a denial of the Christianity or meetness for heaven of any others. This part of the objection denies, or at least confounds the necessary distinction between the visible and invisible state of the church—an error which is logically followed by many others. Consistently with our distinctive principles and practice, which alone exemplify true charity, as we sincerely believe, we doubt not many are now in heaven and also on earth, partakers of the "common salvation," who never heard of Covenanters. And, moreover, Covenanters have always, in private intercourse, been ready to embrace in their heart’s affections, all who in their judgment love God in Christ. This they do on the principle that "every one that loveth Him that begat loveth Him also that is begotten of Him." 1 Jno 5:1. But this private and occasional intercourse the Scriptures distinguish from public, ecclesiastical fellowship; and Covenanters endeavor to act according to that supreme rule. They cannot, therefore, at the same time, consistently testify against the errors and sins of parties, and appear under an official or judicial banner as one with them. "If any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols?" 1 Cor. 8:10.—Not that we charge all others with idolatry: but there is a rule in Logic which the learned acknowledge to be correct, Majus et minus non variant speciem,—"greater or less does not vary the nature of a thing." And we are enjoined to "mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them, Rom. 16:17: as also to "withdraw ourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly"—yes, though a brother. 2 Thes. 3:6; 1 Tim. 3:5. No, no, we are not uncharitable. While hating Pharisaic exclusiveness, we no less dislike the spurious charity that "suffers sin upon a brother" without rebuke. Lev. 19:17; Tit. 1:13.
This chaotic condition of the nominal Reformed Presbyterian Church at the present time in all lands in which her people are found is just cause of lamentation; and our real object in this as in other humble efforts, is to help and direct all who bewail the present desolations of our covenanted Zion. We pretend to no superior light, or wisdom, or sanctity; we aim only at removing the rubbish, that the ancient landmarks may reappear, and on the principle of charity, which comprises the whole moral law (Rom. 13:8-10), we have not shunned to mention the names of leaders in public measures of defection, following the example of our Lord, prophets, apostles and our witnessing ancestors. Few and feeble as we are if our Lord please to bless this publication to His hidden ones who sigh and cry for the abominations prevalent in society the greater revenue of glory shall accrue to Himself. "And in his excellent glory let all his saints rejoice."
Finally, that we may trace the streams to their fountain, of which the "flock of slaughter" are tempted to drink when "fouled by the feet of shepherds" unfaithful to the Chief Shepherd, we believe that the (fons et origo omnium nostrorum malorum)—the fountain and origin of all our sinful departures from the Covenanted Work of Reformation—will be found in the practice of what is well, too well, marked in our history, and commonly called "Occasional Hearing." Can any person give a reason why he should not hear constantly where he can hear occasionally? Or can any one, at the same time, testify against a church for unfaithfulness, and wait upon its ministry, without evident inconsistency and neutralizing his testimony? Will he succeed in recovering backsliders by following them in their backsliding course? We distinguish here between such as are advancing and those who are retrograding, as our witnessing fathers always did, and towards which parties our deportment ought to be different. To those advancing we extend a helping hand, but from those declining we are commanded to "turn away." (2 Tim. 3:1-5). If I may hear a minister in his pulpit in another fellowship, why may I not in my own pulpit? Then exchange of pulpits necessarily follows, invitation to a seat in church courts, and then open communion!—and all sanctioned and sanctified by the euphonious phrase, "Christian courtesy"! But how will Christ look upon such motley multitudes? Can they bury his blood-sealed truth and conceal their hypocrisy under "good words and fair speeches" from "His eyes, like unto a flame of fire?" Impossible. But we ought to "have the mind of Christ." (l Cor. 2:16). To us the logical connection of the consecutive steps above merely noted is quite obvious. The inevitable tendency of occasional hearing and its ultimate issue is open communion,—the overthrow of all creeds, confessions and testimonies; all Subordinate Standards and final apostasy.
To all those in whose heart the Lord has preserved a supreme love to Himself and to His truth, sealed by the blood of heroic and patriotic martyrs, as that truth has been transmitted historically in doctrine, worship, government and discipline,—the practical results of our Covenants, National and Solemn League: to all such we address the words of good Hezekiah: "Now, be ye not stiff-necked, as your fathers were; but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified forever, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you."
"Arise, O God, judge the earth, for thou shalt inherit all nations."
 The reference is, of course, to the "New American Covenant," adopted May 27th, 1871, and to the "Public Resolutions" of December 14th, 1650; which resolutions, says a learned and intelligent writer, "obliterated the co-ordinate and inverted the relative standing of church and state; effected a schism in the body of Christ, and opened the way for all the suffering, tyranny and blood which followed till 1688." All the crueltie perpetrated by the "bloody house of Stuart" did not—could not wound the cause as did the perfidious Resolutions. [back]
 Reformed Presbyterian Witness, Sept. 1871, p. 199. About the date of the adove quoted sentiments of the editor, Rev. Robert Wallace, the "Minority Synod" in Scotland seemed to retain some "affection to the cause"—now how fallen! [back]
 These brethren’s posterity congratulate themselves that they have never repudiated the Covenants as was done at Pittsburgh, 1871! Many years ago they "consigned them as much as possible to oblivion," by expunging their very names from their Terms of Communion. In lieu of them is inserted an approbation of covenants in general. No party can well object to this. It suits all comers. [back]
 Rev. A.M. Milligan. [back]
 Rev. S. Carlisle. [back]
 Rev. S.O. Wylie. [back]
 Rev. J.S.T. Milligan. [back]
 Rev. Dr. Sloan. [back]
 Mr. David Wallace, Elder. [back]
 We think no malignant in Scotland ever spoke against the covenants with more detestation. [back]
 See the wickedness of this phraseology plainly and faithfully exposed in the Original Covenanter, p. 259, &c. [back]
 Solemnizing "private marriages or without proclamation" was one of the sins of the prelates, for which they were excommunicated by the General Assembly, 1638. (See Covenanter (Belfast) 1834, p. 182. [back]
 We put on record one example among many of aggravated guilt contracted in that "hour of temptation." Rev. A.C. Todd volunteered as military captain, inducing and seducing young men of his pastoral charge to accompany him into the Union army. For reasons unknown to us he shortly resigned his command, leaving his comrades in camp! Re-entering his pulpit "in his regimentals" on the Lord’s day, an aged minister, the late Rev. Wm. Sloane, took his hat and the hand of a grandchild and withdrew. Unable to withstand the resentment of the mothers whose sons’ carcasses their pastor had left to fall in the wilderness, Mr. Todd soon after relinquished his charge of that congregation, withdrew from the neighborhood and located somewhere, at that date at the western limit of civilization. And all this with the connivance—or, rather, the sanction—of his brethren: for, so far as known to us, he has been all along recognized in "full and regular standing." [back]
 The Ferguson Bequest case, in Scotland, and that of Mary White, in Rochester. N.Y., are essentially similar; but in the latter case there was neither a "Lord President" to investigate, nor pecuniary resources to meet the necessary charges of court that justice might go forth. [back]
 We gladly put on record here our grateful tribute to the fortitude and fidelity of the late Rev. Wm. Toland, who, in 1853, when the Irish Synod was preparing to renew the Covenants, alone refused to cooperate, unless in the "Confession of Sins," that sin of confederacy should be inserted—especially in the presence of Dr. Wm. J. Stavely, their oldest ministerial brother. [back]
 Rev. Andrew Symington, D.D. [back]
 Rev. J.R.W. Sloane. [back]
 Rev. J.H. Boggs. [back]
 Rev. J.C.K. Milligan. [back]
 Rev. J.W. Sproull. [back]
 At this time (1859), Rev. John Cunningham, LL.D, left the Synod, fully convinced that the leaders were irreclaimably bent on apostasy. Time proved he was right. [back]
 Dr. Paul’s position on the question of the magistrate’s power circa sacra, a question discussed at that time with much acrimony, could not be misunderstood by any unbiased person, when the votaries of Rome presented a purse of British sovereigns to the Doctor, as a token of their approbation! [back]
 The Rev. James Reid, author of the Lives of the Westminster Divines, left the Synod in the year 1822, because of the change in the Terms of Communion by expunging the Auchensaugh Deed. Dr. [John] Cunningham, in 1849, was much influenced and directed by the beacon light of Mr. Reid’s example. Jas. 5:10. [back]
 Rev. Samuel McKinney. [back]
 Rev. J.B. Johnston, Rev. James Milligan and others. [back]
 Isaiah 9:15. [back]
 The Duty of Social Covenanting, By Thomas Sproull, Pastor, pp. 32. Pittsburgh, 1841. [back]
 All these excellent sentiments seemed to have been totally forgotten or wholly disregarded when the time came for their practical use and appropriate application. Some said, "We have all we want;" and we strongly suspect too many wanted none of the former obligations—"in this free country." [back]
 The Scottish Synod changed the Terms in 1822, and the Testimony in 1837-9, bringing the latter into agreement with the former. Both were adopted by the Irish Synod which divided in 1840; and the same causes resulted in the disruptions of the Scottish Synod in 1859 and 1863. At this date (1879) the two parties in Ireland seem to be coming together on the lower platform. [back]
 Years ago the Reformed Presbyterian Witness (Glasgow) said, "We have it on the most reliable authority, that in admitting members in at least several congregations of the (O[ld] L[ight]) Reformed Presbyterians in America, there is not the slightest reference made to the terms of communion." A mere "profession of faith in Christ" is all that most sessions require of applicants." Alas! how must the case be now? [back]
 One of the most recent accusations is, that we are "enemies to church and state." We hope the ground of this charge by our accusers is no worse that of the Galatians against Paul, who "became their enemy because he told them the truth." Ch. 4:16. [back]
 The late Rev. William Sommerville, of Nova Scotia, after a long and laborious ministry, shortly before his death gave expression to the opinion that before the overthrow of Antichrist, and the introduction of the millennium, the witnesses would be still further reduced in number; and the Rev. Thomas Henderson, in Scotland, expressed the same opinion. [back]
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