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exscinders, whenever even a small minority might see fit to rise up and claim it from those who had produced it to secure to themselves and their children the ordinances of the gospel. This they utterly refused. The Assembly preferred to secure the right to the churches which they had built, by testing their right to be considered the lawful successors, according to the charter. The result is known. An enlightened court and jury, before whom the merits of the cause on both sides were fully and ably manifested—THE ONLY TRIBUNAL WHERE THE CAUSE EVER WAS TRIED UPON ITS MERITS—were prompt and unanimous in our favour. After the new trial was ordered, several suits were commenced, by small minorities attempting to take, by course of law, the sanctuaries which our people had erected before the division. Every one of these cases that came to an issue was decided in our favour.
The award of the Court in Banc, Chief Justice Gibson presiding and pronouncing the opinion of the court, in the case of the Presbyterian Church of York, Pennsylvania, while it has for ever settled the occupancy of church property in that State on the proper basis, has so clearly treated of the main questions at issue, between the parties in the action we have withdrawn, and so correctly in the main has it eclaircised and settled them, that we are comparatively content with the award, inasmuch as IT EXPLAINS, QUALIFIES, AND IN EFFECT MORALLY OVERRULES, THE POSITIONS BEFORE ADVANCED, by the same court, on the motion previously “affirmed absolute," for a new trial.
In that award, allusion is distinctly had to those positions, as leading to the absolute affirmance of the motion; and this result is explained as follows: " It was not because the minority were thought to be any thing else than Presbyterians, but because a popular body is known only by its government or head. * * * Indeed, the measure [the exscinding violence] would seem to have been as decisively revolutionary, as would be an exclusion of particular States from the Federal Union, for the adoption of an anti-republican form of govern. ment. * *
* * * That the Old School party acceded to the privileges and property of the Assembly, was not because it was more Presbyterian than the other, but because it was stronger; for had it been the weaker, it would have been the party excluded.”
The Scotch party retain the funds and property. Individuals of the party have intimated a willingness to restore as much of these funds as was contributed by the Puritan party. There is no doubt they would be more happy if it were done; but how to perform that which they desire, they find not. The funds are of little consequence. The period of deep excitement has passed away. Some great advantages have accrued from this unhappy division of brethren. The accusations of heresy have ceased, and events have shown that either party would gladly strengthen itself with receiving to its arms any clergyman of good standing in his present position. An interchange of public service in one another's churches has already commenced, and there is every reason to hope that the time is not distant, when the kindest and most fraternal intercourse will prevail universally between these two branches of the Presbyterian family.
Names are of minor consequence; yet they exert an influence; and the present relations of these two bodies demand the exercise of Christian courtesy and kindness in the appellations by which they shall distinguish one another. The General Assembly of the Puritan
. party has been termed the Constitutional General Assembly, to distinguish it from those of the exscinding body, and this has been justified on the ground that the jury so decided. But it is to be remembered that a final decision has not been had, and it is adapted to wound the feelings of some to fix such appellations upon the two parties. They are now two churches. The division may be advantageously contemplated as one of the events ordered by an all-wise Providence.
The Assembly of the Scotch party holds its sessions annually. That of the Puritan party meets only once in three years. There can be no offence in calling one the Annual Assembly, and the other the Triennial Assembly
The numerical strength of the two churches is not greatly unequal. The Triennial Assembly carries forward its charitable operations wholly by means of voluntary associations, in which it co-operates with other denominations. Its contributions to foreign missions are made chiefly to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions; those for our own country are through the American Home Missionary Society. It has no denominational tract society, preferring to act with its Christian brethren of other churches in the American Tract Society. The church has raised up, and has now under its care, four theological seminaries, viz. : those of Auburn, New York, and Lane Seminary, at Cincinnati, and the Theological Seminary of Maryville, East Tennessee, together with a theological department in the Western Reserve College,-and all in a highly flourishing condition. In respect to colleges and institutions of secular learning generally, the Presbyterian Church prefers to act with all its countrymen, without respect to denominations, any further than to secure in such institutions a proper regard for sound morals and true religion. Associated naturally with the population of New Eng. land, the difference of forms of ecclesiastical polity cannot prevent a natural co-operation with the sons of the Pilgrims, in disseminating Christianity with less of exclusiveness and sectarian character than belongs to any other body of Christians.
It remains to be seen whether there is sufficient of liberality and charity in the age to justify such a procedure, or whether this generosity of the Presbyterian Church shall be met with such an amount of exclusiveness, as to receive an impulse while imparting one, and thus to become assimilated in this respect to the sects by which it is surrounded.
The General Assembly has under its care 19 synods, 101 presbyteries, and nearly 1500 ministers.
In concluding this statement it may not be improper to remark, that when other denominations have been alluded to, it has been done for the sake of setting forth distinctly the character and position of the Presbyterian Church. Not a wish has been indulged to wound the feelings of other communions. The prelatical churches, from which we differ so widely on the great principles of ecclesiastical liberty, we nevertheless regard as churches of Christ, and would as cordially invite them to our pulpits and our communion, if they would reciprocate our kindness, as we do the clergy and communicants of other denominations, and we feel even an unaffected grief that they should be prevented by their system from meeting us as the ministers of Christ, and members of the Church Universal. We would gladly have passed over all allusion to the division of our own church in 1838; but it seemed otherwise impossible to make a fair statement of the characteristics and condition of the Presbyterian Church. We have aimed to avoid all offence in speaking of the parties as leaning respectively towards the strictness of the Scotch Church, and the readier tendency to yield and to assimilate with others manifested by the descendants of the English Puritans. It cannot be denied, that many Presbyterians originally of the Scotch school, both clergy and laity, as the Synod of Virginia and others, are among our most liberal constitutional Presbyterians, nor that some of the clergy and people born and educated among the Pilgrim sons of New England, are among the straitest class of those connected with the church of the Annual Assembly. We only mean a general characteristic of the parties as such, when we give them these appellations. With that church the writer, as an individua)—and he is confident the same may be said of most of his brethren-has no personal difficulties. He has been for a term of five years together connected with a presbytery, in’which nearly every member sympathized with that party. The kindly intercourse enjoyed with his brethren of Louisiana will not be easily forgotten. If we have spoken of our own church as the true constitutional Presbyterian Church, it was not to question the rights of others. It was only because we really think it such. Undoubtedly others think differently with equal sincerity. Our prayer is that both may prosper, and only provoke one another to love and good works, and that all those churches who hold Christ the head may unite their energies against all those forms of sin that resist the progress of our common Christianity.
In preparing the above article, thoughts and language have been taken from such sources of information as were accessible to us. In doing this it was less trouble and more favourable to typographical beauty, and to rendering the whole readable, to avoid frequent quotation marks and notes in the margin. Acknowledgments are due to the Confession of Faith, Catechisms, and Directory of the Presbyterian Church; The Assembly's Digest; Dr. Hill's and Dr. Hodge's Histories of the Presbyterian Church; Dr. Miller's Tract on Presbyterianism, and his article on the same subject in the Religious Encyclopædia ; Judge Rogers’ Charge to the Jury on the trial of the Church case; Letter of the Committee ad interim of the General Assembly, and the Decision of Chief Justice Gibson in the case of the Church of York, Pennsylvania.
REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
BY THE REV. JOHN N. MÄLEOD, D.D.,
The Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States of America derives her origin from the old Reformation Church of Scotland. Her history, therefore, down to the period of her organization in this country, is necessarily involved in that of the parent church herself. It deserves remembrance to her honour, that Scotland was among the last of the nations to submit to the usurpation of the Church of Rome. Until the beginning of the eleventh century she possessed a Christian church which maintained her spiritual independence, and refused to bow to the Papal supremacy. But Antichrist at length prevailed, and substituted his ruinous formalism for the ancient Christianity. From the beginning of the eleventh to that of the sixteenth century, “ darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people” of insular as well as continental Europe.
With the sixteenth century, however, commenced that glorious revival of evangelical religion, the Protestant Reformation. Scotland felt its influence, and awoke from her slumber. John Knox of famous memory, had lighted his torch at the candle of God's word, which had just been rescued from under the bushel where Antichrist had hidden it for ages. He carried it through his native land, and her nobles, her people, and many even of the priests of Rome, were enlightened in the truths of the gospel. In the year 1560 Popery was abolished; the Bible was declared free to all; a Confession of Faith, containing an admirable summary of divine truth, was prepared; a book of discipline, declaring the government of the church to be presbyterial, was adopted ; and all ranks of men in the nation bound themselves to each other and to God, in a solemn covenant engagement, to maintain and perpetuate the Reformation which had been established. This is what is usually denominated in Scottish history the “first reformation," or reformation from Popery. And thus arose