Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

will of God (or perhaps “is willing," skan) shall know whether the doctrine is true; * and similar engagements of the Divine veracity are made in other places. Here then is a challenge to the sceptic, and it may be remarked, that a religion which dares to give such a pledge, offers in its calm self-confidence a presumption of its truth. If, therefore, he undertakes the examination, with the honest purpose required, and conscientiously maintains it, then (unless we misread the text), either the religion is false or the inquirer must be led to recognize it as divine. Whatever his position, and however impenetrable the clouds that invest him, he has in this promise a principle which, if the Gospel is false, must detect the imposition, and if true, will be his guiding star through the night of darkness and error.

Art. VI.- Adjourned Meetings of the General Assemblies

at Pittsburg.

ACCORDING to adjournment, at the close of their respective meetings in New York last spring, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, O. S., assembled in the First Presbyterian Church, and that of the New School in the Third Presbyterian Church, in Pittsburg, Pa., November 10, 1869, at 11 A. M.

The great object of these meetings, it is hardly necessary to say, was to receive duly attested reports of the votes of the Presbyteries on the overture sent down to them touching re-union, and if they found it sanctioned by two-thirds of the Presbyteries of each body, to declare the same to be of “binding force.” Thus the re-union would be consummated, and the two churches become one body organically, in fact and in form.

Some items of unfinished business, laid over to this meeting, comprised principally of the reports of committees appointed ad interim, required first to be disposed of in each body. In the New School Assembly this consisted chiefly of a report on amusements by a committee, of which the Rev. IIerrick Johnson was chairman, which is judicious and discriminating. It however prescribes little to relieve the practical difficulties of the subject, beyond what may be found in an elevated tone of piety. They also uttered a strong protest against the present tendency in our State and municipal governments to appropriate the public moneys to the support of Papal schools, and exclude the Bible from all. They likewise took decided action in favor of having manses provided in all congregations. They further adopted some measures respecting their relations to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, rendered necessary by the re-union, to which we may briefly recur hereafter. Their other work, outside of re-union, was mostly formal or devotional.

* John vii, 17.

Our own Assembly had two reports from committees ad interim of the gravest importance--we refer to those on the Chicago and Danville seminaries. The conflicts among the friends of these seminaries have been so earnest, protracted, and, in some cases, embittered, that it was feared by many that the measures and discussions necessary to their pacification at Pittsburg, would greatly mar, if not delay, the consummation of re-union. Thanks to the thorough, patient, and wise labors of the respective committees sent to examine and report upon the difficulties of these institutions, such fears proved groundless. Owing to the patient and judicious labors of the respective committees, the troubles had already been composed on such a basis as commanded universal assent, and left nothing to be done by the Assembly but to accept and adopt the reports of the committees without debate. This was accomplished during the first day of the session. The substance of the settlement by compromise at Chicago was flashed through the country by telegraph a few days before the meeting of the Assembly, and sent a thrill of joy through the whole church. It is contained in the following extract from the report of the committees, of which Senator Drake was chairman :

" After having heard all the evidence in the case, the committee determined it to be their duty to make an effort to secure an amicable adjustment of the difficulty. They therefore appointed two of their number (Drs. Musgrave and Backus), to undertake this delicate duty. The effort, we are happy to say, proved successful by the great mercy of our Lord; and the following are the terms of this adjustment, accepted by all the parties, the original copy of which, signed by a representative of each party in the presence and with the concurrence of all, is herewith submitted to the Assembly :

"The parties to the controversy in regard to the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of the Northwest, have agreed to this amicable adjustment, viz.: I. That by-gones shall be by.gones. No further controversy respecting past issues to be indulged in, and all shall cordially unite in efforts to promote the prosperity of the institution in the field of usefulness now about to widen so greatly before it. II. That, on the one hand, Dr. Lord shall retain the chair of Theology, to which he has been assigned by the General Assembly; and that, on the other hand, the General Assembly will order the release of Mr. McCormick from the fourth instalment of his bond, and that the instalments of the endowment already paid shall be regarded as a fulfilment of his entire obligations. III. That the three trustees last elected shall resign, and their places shall be supplied by others not unacceptable to either party. IV. That hereafter, all the friends and patrons of the seminary shall have a proper share in the management of the institution; and that, as far as practicable, all the Synods particularly concerned shall be duly represented; it being understood that those friends of the seminary, who have not contributed to its endowment, shall make a prompt and earnest effort to raise for it the sum of at least twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000).

"Signed on behalf of the parties we respectively represent, on this third day of November, A. D. 1869.

" (Signed),

D. C. MARQUIS, “(Sigued),

H. F. SPAFFORD."

We should be glad, if we had space, to copy the entire report. The main feature of it is the argument which the release of Mr. McCormick from the legal obligation of his bond to pay the last $25,000 of his munificent subscription of $100,000 to endow the seminary, after having already paid $75,000. The argument is simply this, that Mr. McCormick stipulated to pay it in view of a mutual understanding between him and the Assembly which founded the seminary, that its professors should not agitate the subject of slavery. In the altered state of the country since that time, the Assembly cannot and will not impose such conditions on its professors. They cannot therefore fulfil their part of the understanding with Mr. McCormick. They cannot, of course, in Christian honor, however they might in law, compel him to fulfil his part of the contract, if he chooses to decline payment; for it is a first principle of ethics that promises are binding in the sense, and only in the sense, in which the promisor believed the promisee to understand them, at the time of making them. It is a matter of unspeakable rejoicing that this obstinate and bitter strife has been composed. It would have been sad to carry such a root of bitterness into the re-united church.

The committee on the Danville Seminary, having the Hon. Stanley Matthews for its chairman, was no less successful in its labors. They were deeply impressed with the importance of the seminary, and of its continuance on the soil of Kentucky; they also found that the want of harmony in the faculty made its reorganization very necessary. The professors nobly relieved the Assembly of all embarrassment by placing their resignations in the hands of the committee. The Assembly accordingly declared their chairs vacant, and ordered an election to fill these vacancies. It wisely discontinued the system of summer sessions recently tried in that institution. It ordered that no professor in the seminary should be either a trustee or director. The following persons were elected to the several vacant chairs : Dr. E. P. Humphrey, Didactic and Polemic Theology; Dr. Stephen Yerkes, Biblical Literature and Exegetical Theology ; Dr. N. West, Biblical and Ecclesiastical History; Dr. L. J. Halsey, Church Governinent and Pastoral Theology.

The following gentlemen were nominated and elected Directors of the Presbyterian Seminary of the Northwest, in place of those whose terms expired last spring: Ministers—J. M. Buchanan, D.D.; Robert Patterson, D.D.; J. D. Mason ; M. C. Anderson; Robert Beer. Ruling Elders—Jesse L. Williams; Charles A. Spring; J. G. Grier; S. N. Moore; Chas. E. Vanderburg

And the following to fill vacancies in the Board of Trustees of the General Assembly: Rev. George Hale, D.D. ; Rev. D. A. Cunningham; Hon. J. K. Findlay ; Archibald McIntyre; James T. Young; Robert Cornelius; H. Lenox Hodge, M. D.

ACTION LOOKING TO CLOSER UNION WITH OTHER PRESBYTERIAN

AND CALVINISTIC BODIES.

Both Assemblies upon hearing the reports of Dr. Fisher and Dr. Musgrave, touching the causes of failure to obtain another meeting of the Joint Committee of New and Old School, and United Presbyterians, in order to negotiate an organic union between the three bodies, adopted the following resolutions :

"Resolved, That, rejoicing in the immediate re-union of the two Presbyterian bodies, so long separated, we would gladly hail a Pan-Presbyterian Union, embracing all branches of the Presbyterian family, holding to the same confession of faith and form of government.

Resolved, That until such desirable union shall be accomplished, we will gladly welcome to our church connection all congregations, pastors, and members who embrace the doctrines of the confession.

" Resolved, That all uniting with us may freely enjoy the privilege of using such songs of praise to Almighty God as their conscience may dictate; as, indeed, is already allowed to, and variously enjoyed in, and by the several congregations now in our communion."

It having become manifest, however, that the second and third of these resolutions were injuriously misconstrued, they were afterward reconsidered, and wisely stricken out, in both bodies.

Upon a memorial from the Synod of St. Paul asking our Assembly to send delegates to the Assembly of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church in this country, the Rev. Mr. Roberts moved that this Assembly send two delegates--one minister and one elder—to the next General Assembly of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church.

The motion was adopted, and the Rev. W. C. Roberts and Ruling Elder Mahlon Mulford were appointed said delegates.

HEIDELBERG CATECHISM. Rev. Dr. Knox-As this is a time of union, I ask leave to present the following paper :

“Whereas, The Heidelberg Catechism 'unquestionably states and defends the doctrines of God's word, held by our own in common with the other reformed churches, and inasmuch as the Reformed (late Dutch) Church has, by an act of its General Synod, formally placed the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly by the side of this, its own standard, allowing its churches to make use of either one at their option; therefore

« ElőzőTovább »