Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

[Steps of Defection in the RPCNA, by the General Meeting of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.]
(In the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.)

Published by order of the

Meeting at the House of Mary A. Blair,
North Union, Butler County, PA., June 9, 1913.
Pondering the words of the Holy Spirit by the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, it seems there never was a time when the prophet’s message was more needed than now, for defection is rife in all bodies of professing Christians. "Thou son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them {13} measure the pattern. And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, show them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the formers thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house." Ezekiel 43.10-12.

There is now an almost total disregard for the whole pattern of the spiritual house of God’s worship.

When the divinely appointed form is observed in every respect, then the worship is spiritual both in form and matter; but when any part, even the least, is omitted, it ceases to be spiritual service, and is unacceptable to God; and is without promise of a blessing now and for eternity. And it is the imperative duty, in fact the whole duty, of the gospel ministry to "show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities;" "to measure the temple of God, the altar, and them that worship therein" (Rev. 11.1); and to "leave out" (cast out) whatever is not according to the divine pattern: for this pattern being perfect can neither be enlarged nor diminished according to the corrupt notions of sinful men. Therefore, every form that is not according to the divine pattern must be abhorred and condemned by all the true worshippers of a holy and unchangeable God.

In view of the foregoing statements, the condition of the so-called Christian denominations must now be truly lamentable.

The attainments of the Church of Scotland between the years 1638 and 1649 have given us the most perfect form of the doctrine and order of God’s house since the days of the apostles.

And to show how the crown has fallen from the heads {14} of the bodies called Presbyterian: we will note the steps of defection by Reformed Presbyterians from the lofty height of Scotland’s Covenanted Reformation: or rather we will endeavor to reiterate the testimony of our faithful progenitors. For whoever reads the Contending Witness, London Scottish Reformed Presbyterian, Reformation Advocate, Original Covenanter, and A Short Vindication of our Covenanted Reformation and other documents emitted from time to time by the Reformed Presbytery, will find these steps of retrogression, from a faithful and pointed testimony to one more loose and general, set forth more fully and plainly than we can hope or are able to do. But for the benefit of those who do not have access to these pamphlets; to testify our adherence to the contendings of the Reformed Presbytery since its erection in 1840; our firm belief that it is the cause of Jesus Christ, from which we cannot decline except at the risk of offending our blessed Lord, and the peril of our immortal souls; we will endeavour to give a short Compend of this downward course and the deplorable consequences attendant upon it.

1. The National Covenant of Scotland, and the Solemn League and Covenant of Scotland, England, and Ireland are the link binding us to the Covenanted Reformation of the Church of Scotland.

And the only faithful renovation of those covenants of which we have authentic record was that sworn by a remnant at Auchensaugh, July 1712, variously known in history as The Auchensaugh Covenant, Bond, Deed, or Renovation.

The faithful ones who there renewed their vows bound up the testimony and made the covenants applicable for the scattered sons of Zion in every land. The notes they inserted on the margin divested the covenants of anything peculiar to the British Isles, and made them perfectly relevant for this and all other lands.

This noble Ebenezer-stone of help, after holding for 94 years an honorable and conspicuous place in the terms of {15} communion of the Covenanter Church, received a wound in [the] house of its friends in America in 1806, When, without the legal prerequisite of overture, it was removed from its accustomed place in the symbols of their faith.

Here was the first step in defection from Covenanted attainments, but one fraught with dreadful consequences. Mr. Steele says, "This was the work of young men who, when old men, attempted to carry out the first lamentable breach in our covenanted Zion in Philadelphia, 1833. That disgraceful rupture, and equally disgraceful antecedents, was one result of removing the Auchensaugh Deed, while still professing to retain the original Covenants in the Terms. To the removal of the Auchensaugh Deed in America, 1806, in Scotland, 1822, in Ireland, 1853, all departures from the Covenanted Reformation may be historically traced."

During the violent opposition to this redoubtable bulwark in the Irish Synod, 1837, its faithful defenders clearly showed the spirit which assailed it the spirit of perverseness from the truth. Mr. Houston said, "Those who approve of the original Covenants themselves cannot consistently deny the propriety of the Auchensaugh Renovation. Believing most firmly this sentiment, he would ever resist any alteration."

Mr. Smyth, "greatly deprecated the attempt to change. It might appear to some to be only refining, polishing, and removing the rubbish (‘simplifying’) from the original documents; but he hesitated not to say it would be the removal of the documents themselves."

Mr. Dick declared, "In the Bond there is one grand principle strongly asserted—the principle of magistratical restraint in matters of religion. But if this is a reason why the Auchensaugh Deed should be treated 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. It is better at once to give away our {16} Standards, than to fasten on the Auchensaugh Deed, and through it to assail the integrity of our Standards." To the superficial observer, unacquainted with the history of the witnesses of Jesus, the removing of this Deed from the Terms of Communion may seem a small matter; but we see that it was not lightly esteemed by those faithful to their vows. We believe that without adherence to it none can occupy the ground of the Second Reformation.

2. Reformation Principles substituted.

A twin step in revolt against the established order of God’s house was made in 1806, by substituting Reformation Principles Exhibited, for the Original Testimony emitted by the Reformed Presbytery of Scotland, at Ploughlandhead, 1761.

The very name itself—Reformation Principles Exhibited—indicates, and the design of its framers as plainly expressed in the preface shows that it is not and never was a testimony: and to call it "The Testimony" is a plain perversion of the word. In the Preface they expressly say, "The Declaratory part is the Church’s Standing Testimony;" surely that is plain enough.

The men who framed Reformation Principles Exhibited tell us that their plan embraced "three parts: The first is Historical; the second, Declaratory; the third, Argumentative." The third part exists only in promise, for it was never executed; and they affirm that even if completed, it could not be a term of communion. The first part they declare "is a help to understand the principles of the Testimony;" but that is all.

"It is partly founded upon human records, and therefore not an article of faith;" or in other words not a term of communion. Therefore they are not bound by anything there recorded.

Authentic history is of the essential nature of testimony. The origin and progress of the visible church in the {17} world under the different dispensations of mercy is matter of historical record.

Since the completion of the canon of divine revelation this record must be written by fallible historians; but there has been an almost universal misrepresentation of the true church by those who have attempted her delineation. Hence the necessity of historical testimony, the history of the contendings and attainments of the "witnesses" (Rev. 11.3), written by themselves; for they only "are children that will not lie." Isa. 63.8. How can antichrist be identified, or the witnesses themselves known, but by history? For the church herself, her doctrines, worship, discipline, and government have all been traduced, misrepresented, and counterfeited. Then it is patent that the "only way by which the witnesses can identify the true church is by comparing doctrine and order with the alone infallible rule, the Bible, and this comparing involves reasoning—argument; history and argument do, therefore, constitute the Church’s testimony and supply her terms of communion, by which she is distinguished from the "flocks of the companions."

Now how can any who reject history identify with the witnesses of former generations?

It is impossible, for there is no other link of connection.

Thus since 1806 the term testimony has been perverted and misapplied and confounded with confession; for Reformation Principles Exhibited lacks the two essential parts of a testimony—history and argument. And "all parties who exclude history and argument from their Terms of Communion, do thereby exclude themselves from the Reformed Presbyterian Church."

Following the lead of those in America in a downward course, Reformed Presbyterians in Scotland began in 1815 to manifest hostility to the Original Testimony of 1761; this culminated in 1837-1839 in emitting a new Testimony, which although retaining the historic name "Testimony" is clearly {18} modeled after Reformation Principles Exhibited and confounds confession and testimony in the same manner. This document was received and owned by the Irish Synods, also, but in 1864-1865 they adopted a new testimony and Terms of Communion.

Now why this plurality of substitutes, this general casting off of the fathers’ bound up Testimony? Why this rending of the organic body by "divers and strange doctrines?" Heb. 13.9.

The answer may be obvious to the reader who will follow the practice of these several bodies claiming to be the original descendents of the martyrs of Scotland.

3. Occasional Hearing.

Reformation Principles Exhibited, and changing the Terms of Communion in 1806 tended to foster this suicidal practice, which is contrary even to the light of reason; and which has well been called "the fountain and origin of all our sinful departures from the Covenanted Work of Reformation." Prior to the lamentable disruption at Philadelphia in 1833 this inconsistent practice had made considerable progress among Reformed Presbyterians in America [RPCNA]; and that disgraceful rupture was the legitimate fruit of occasional hearing.

In 1834, at the first synodical meeting after the breach of the previous year, a memorial came before Synod asking that the court declare the law of the house on this growing evil. Although, at that date, no member had the temerity to openly defend or advocate the practice—but all seemed to disapprove it—yet the memorial was returned. Rev. Thomas Sproull, then a young minister, seemed to be zealously opposed to any action on the document. He "hoped Synod would leave that matter to be regulated by him and his session." The rule was not popular outside of the church and was becoming unpopular in the church, and its enforcement by discipline would hinder accessions of people and their funds to our fellowship. Very true, and therefore by {19} refusing the prayer of the memorialists, Synod virtually abolished her own law, and interpretatively licensed the practice prohibited by the divine law, as also by the authority of the Reformed Presbyterian church for more than two hundred years! This was like the letting in of water, and although discipline was exercised on offenders by some sessions for many years after this, it has grown to a flood and engulfed all, so that members may now go where they please without fear of being called to account. And indeed who could censure, when the highest court of the body, at their last meeting at Winona Lake, Ind., could hear and give a vote of thanks to Billy Sunday, a man, whose public utterances, (called preaching) as given in the secular papers, are for the most part a mixture of slang, ribaldry, and jest and frequently verging on blasphemy, at other times so puerile as to be ridiculous. "Be astonished, O ye heavens at this," that professed Covenanters should fall so low!

We are enjoined: "Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." Romans 16.17. "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." 2 Thes. 3.6. How can we avoid any if we wait on their ministrations? Can we consistently withdraw from any and yet fellowship them occasionally? No, it is impossible! Do we expect to reclaim backsliders by following them in their backward courses? Can any person give a reason why he should not hear constantly where he can hear occasionally?

Faithful Covenanters in Scotland refused to hear the Curates and also the Indulged, although many of the latter were learned and godly men; but they felt constrained to withstand them, because they did not walk uprightly according to the truth—the whole truth of God’s Word as set forth in our Covenants, National and Solemn League. And John Welch writing to Robert Bruce in 1596 concerning unfaithful ministers says:—"They are no more to be counted Orthodox, {20} but Apostates; … and are no more to be counted Christians, but strangers, Apostates and Persecutors; and therefore not to be heard any more." Hind Let Loose, Page 71.

Our fathers plainly distinguished between a church advancing and one declining, and steadfastly refused to be accessory to the declension of the latter.

4. Sunday Schools.

About the year 1828 the Prelatic invention of England—the Sunday School—was introduced into the Reformed Presbyterian body, with the connivance of the judicatories.

At its inception in Pittsburgh, the Reformed Presbyterian, Associate Presbyterian, and Associate Reformed cooperated, and for a short time the school was conducted in the places of public worship of these churches on alternate Sabbaths. This amalgamation seemed to promise much but was soon found impracticable, and each party thenceforward devised its own measures and pursued its own course.

This innovation, like others of the same kind, did not come in all at once; it was stoutly resisted for many years by some congregations of Reformed Presbyterians, but at length the opposition was worn out (for there is such a thing as "wearing out the saints of the Most High." Dan. 7.25,) and the Sabbath (Sunday) School established.

It is now one of the most popular institutions of Christendom. It is considered by almost all denominations as an institution of paramount importance in building up a congregation. The congregation without a Sabbath school is looked upon as lacking the main element of success, and entirely behind the age.

But what avails its popularity unless it can be shown to be a divine institution? "for whatsoever is not of faith is sin." Rom. 14.23. The fact that it is so popular in an age of declension, and with those who oppose a covenanted work of reformation, is strong presumptive evidence that it is one {21} of those commandments of which our Saviour speaks:—"In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." Matt. 15.9.

How can anyone prove that the Sabbath school is of divine origin? It cannot be from Scripture for it is not even mentioned nor the slightest allusion made to it anywhere in God’s word.

Christ has appointed all the laws and ordinances of His spiritual temple, and all the officers and laborers for the building of the house, with their qualifications and duties; and He has recorded His promises made to them. But He has not spoken one word about Sabbath Schools, nor assigned any qualifications for its teachers; neither has he made them any promises, nor assigned them any duties. Then it is obvious that it does not belong to God’s covenant society. It has no more right to a place among the builders of Jerusalem’s walls than had Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem, and their companions. [Neh. 2.19,20.]

The Reformed Presbyterian Synod, at New York, 1870, tried to account for the origin of the Sabbath School in another way; and here is what she says:—"And thus out of the necessity of surrounding circumstances… was born the Sabbath school with its stated sessions, and graded classes, and numerous teachers." She says again, "Have we here a new fourth great institution requisite to supplement the former three, (family, church, and state) and—born of the exigencies of the times?" A pitiable defense indeed! heathen idolaters might bring more proof for their orgies. Who judged of "the necessity of sorrowing circumstances, and the exigencies of the times?" Not God, but men—men blinded to the truth by co-operation with this and other recent institutions. Again, such language seems to impeach the power and wisdom of our Lord Jesus Christ: He was not able, or did not know, to provide sufficient furniture for the accomplishment of His purposes of love and mercy to His Church: the divine institutions, family, church, and state are not perfect but need supplementing. Our {22} Saviour’s direction to His apostles and their successors, for all time, was:—"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,… teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world." Matt. 28.19,20.

How can any approach God in faith by means which He has not commanded? But we know, that "without faith it is impossible to please him." Heb. 11.6.

Objections to the Sabbath school, in public print for more than forty years, and still unanswered are briefly as follows:—

1. It is a breach of the fourth Commandment. In that precept which is moral and of perpetual obligation, God holds the heads of families accountable for the conduct of their children on the Sabbath, while they are in their minority. "These words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children." Deut. 6.6,7; now, how can they obey this command who allow their children to be taken in charge on the Lord’s day by others.

2. The children of Christian families are prevented from attending the public ordinances of divine institution. Or if still required to attend the ordinances it is laying on them more than God requires or the parents themselves will readily endure.

3. The habitual weekly contact of the children of Christian families with the ungodly and profane, in their tender years and while from under the eye of their parents, as they are in this invention; for such systematic intermingling is expressly forbidden in God’s word. The Psalmist records the evil effects upon God’s covenant people: they "were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works." Psalm 106.35; and the same course of conduct is not less deleterious under the New Testament dispensation, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners," 1 Cor. 15.33. The professed object of bringing in heathen children {23} was the christianizing of them, the consequence, the children of covenanted parents were heathenized.

4. The vitiating nature of Sabbath School literature.

The flood of fictitious literature which forms the staple of Sabbath school libraries—the product of the vain imaginations of persons ignorant of the Scriptures—has a most debasing influence on the minds of tender youth, vitiating their taste for the truth of God’s Word, and the footsteps of the flock—footsteps traced in the blood in the earnest contendings for the faith, and written by the witnesses themselves, for they are "children that will not lie." Isa. 63.8. We believe the direct tendency of this trashy fiction is to open the door for the next step—the "blood and thunder" novel—and paving the way for ungodliness and crime of every sort.

5. The omission or careless performance of family duties on the Sabbath.

Catechising on the evening of the Lord’s day—an exercise essential to domestic religion and real reformation—is generally neglected. The reading of nonsensical and trashy Sunday school lessons and stories has nearly displaced the reading of the Bible, church history, and the sound didactic and polemic works of men "mighty in the Scriptures," and endowed with spiritual wisdom. And night services and young people’s meetings have absorbed the Sabbath evening, so that catechising, reading, and study of God’s Word and family worship are laid aside as not convenient, much less necessary duties, under the new order of things.


The Sabbath school, which we have just noticed, is but one of a class, whose name is legion, which now infest the Church.

In 1828, the Reformed Presbyterian Synod [RPCNA] pledged her patronage to the Colonization Society—a scheme really fostered by the slave-holders to rid the country of free negroes {24} by colonizing them in Africa; so that those in slavery might be the more easily held in subjection. By endorsing the Colonization Society, Synod impliedly sanctioned confederating with all sorts of persons: a course of action directly contrary to our covenants National and Solemn League. In a few years the sentiment of the majority changed so as to prefer a competing organization, the Abolition Society. And when Synod was memorialized in 1836, to give the Testimony more point and publicity against the national sin of slavery, instead of answering the desire of the memorialists—"transferred the Synod’s patronage from the Colonization Society to the cause of Abolition." Mr. Steele says: "In the year 1836, when Synod next met, the country was in a condition of effervescence on the question of slavery; and some of the ministers, to gain popularity and augment their meager income, had actually obtained a commission from the ‘American Anti-Slavery Society,’ at a salary of forty dollars per month."

Some who desired to be faithful, for opposing and testifying against their backsliding leaders, were pursued and persecuted even to suspension. Declension still increasing with accelerated motion, in 1840, three resolutions were laid before Synod, "which required the condemnation of membership, by any Reformed Presbyterian, in the associations of the day, composed of all professions of religion and no profession." "To institute an inquiry, to ascertain the extent of guilt contracted and chargeable on the community: To confess the sins and engage to the contrary duties:—" and called for immediate action of Synod.

But Synod instead of confessing sin and engaging to duty, laid the resolutions on the table; and they were finally laid away until next meeting of Synod.

Then those who desired to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ, and whose hearts were upright for the covenanted {25} attainments of our martyred progenitors seeing the hopelessness of further contending and having exhausted all scriptural means to reclaim a backsliding majority, to avoid the sin of schism, withdrew from that body and formed the Reformed Presbytery, at Allegheny, June 27, 1840.

This virtuous action aroused the ire of those enmeshed with various unholy confederacies, but did not bring them to an acknowledgment of their sins; they still went on frowardly mingling with more and more voluntary associations. Before this time they had mingled with Temperance societies (so called) and continue to do so to this day. Yea, so mad have they now become on this idol that they have prostituted the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, by substituting must [grape juice] for the wine commanded by Jesus Christ to be used in celebrating his dying love. Some even go so far as to directly contradict Scripture, and say, that our Saviour, at the marriage feast did not make wine that would inebriate! An expression common in the mouths of these self-styled reformers when speaking of spirituous liquor is, "it is a creature of the devil," or words to that effect, thus making the devil a creator.

When men lose sight of God’s "law and testimony" they must necessarily suffer sadly from aberration of their moral vision, (not having God’s "word for a lamp to their feet and a light to their path." Psalm 119.105; and so "regard not the work of the Lord, nor consider the operation of his hands." Isa. 5.12.) accordingly we hear and see Presbyterians, yes, Reformed Presbyterians [RPCNA], speak and act as though drunkenness was the only sin now extant in the earth; while more heinous breaches of God’s law go almost unrebuked. The follow of their man made devices—pledges, temperance, sermons, etc.—is clear as noonday, and instead of promoting sobriety, are increasing drunkenness to an alarming extent.

In 1864 another voluntary movement called, "National Reform" was projected. This association had for its object the amending of the National constitution. But how was it to be accomplished? Not by making it conform to the divine {26} law, but "by making it (the constitution) conform to the actual character of the nation;" which they affirmed was christian, though it has been often and plainly proved infidel. Thus the National Reform Association is built on a foundation of sand; and the majority of its orators make strenuous efforts to prove, that all that is lacking to make this nation christian in every sense of the word is a religious amendment to the constitution. It matters not if ninety-nine out of every hundred of its officers and citizens may neither know God nor obey our Lord Jesus Christ.

These reformers (?) say:—"the principle of this movement is that the nation should acknowledge and serve God for itself and not through the medium of any church establishment." This is nothing less than to inculcate infidelity on the nation. Instead of national reformation it is national deformation. How can nations and kingdoms obey the divine injunction, "Kiss the Son," (Psalm 2:12) except by uniting with God’s true reformed church in a solemn covenant and endeavour the promotion, preservation and defense of the true reformed religion in doctrine, worship, discipline, and government?

And then the nation would with all sincerity, honesty, and holy zeal, unite with the true reformed church in endeavouring the extirpation of every false system of religion; and in abhorring, detesting, and opposing every corrupt system of doctrine, worship, discipline, and government. For our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, speaking to the true reformed church, concerning those communities that refuse this alliance with and service to His mystical body, says: "The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish: yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted." Isa. 60.12. In short, this service is: the establishment by law of the true reformed religion; its support by giving of the revenues of the State for its diffusion and administration; the disfranchisement of all malignants, sectaries, and evil instruments; the suppression of all idolatry and the punishment of all idolaters, taking God’s law as the rule in every case. {27}

Thus we see the teaching of the National Reform Association is directly opposed to the teachings of the Bible, and the doctrine and practice of our covenanted progenitors.

Yet the Reformed Presbyterian Synod [RPCNA] have counted it their glory to be identified with this confederacy. In 1882 the National Reform Committee, R.J. George chairman, said: "It is the special work of our church among the sisterhood of churches. No other branch of the Christian church sustains to this movement the relation which we sustain…. It is the central pillar of our denominational super-structure…. We cannot withhold our labors and be guiltless…. It is the need of the hour."

In 1887 they press for liberal giving, "We urge our Church to increase her contributions to this cause, as the work makes progress. All the gold given here goes into the diadem of King Jesus. We will find it again when we behold His glory." This is but a sample of the encomiums which the Synod from time to time lavished on this organization. Such talk would be laughable were it not so provoking and wicked. It is more than we are able to understand, how money given to this association to teach the nation infidelity and rebellion against Jehovah will ever be seen in His diadem. Away with such nonsense!

In 1911 the Synod pretended to sever her relations with the National Reform Association; but all that was done was to remove the collection for it from the official list of schemes of the church, while at the same time commending it to the liberality of the people. Truly, the legs of the lame are not equal.

True national reform is something to be earnestly desired and labored for; but it is as different from that set forth by this organization as light is from darkness. A true national reformation is a covenanted reformation. The nation must be allied to a faithful church, with faithful ministers to teach the nation the duties of God’s covenant.

Another voluntary association with which so-called {28} Covenanters are entangled is the Christian Endeavor Society. This society is of the crop of "new gods that have come newly up." (Deut. 32.17,) being founded by a Mr. Clark about 1870. It is another of the instruments that have been potent in destroying family religion. The meetings of these societies are usually held on Sabbath evenings, thus taking up the time that should be employed in reading the Bible and catechizing; and the youth freed from parental restraint have a general good time. This association with boon [merry] companions soon destroys any regard they may have for Sabbath sanctity, and opens the way for more gross breaches of God’s holy law.

These are but a portion of the voluntary associations with which the church is polluted until there is no place clean. "They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the Lord…. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord; for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions." Hos. 5.4-7.

6. Proclamation of Banns.

In 1863 another step was taken in departing from Reformation attainments by casting aside the time honored and righteous law requiring that: "Before the solemnization of marriage between any persons, their purpose of marriage shall be published by the minister three several Sabbath days in the congregation, at the place or places of their most usual and constant abode respectively."

This rule was for centuries a blessed means of preserving good order in the church:—then why reject it? It seems that in the Westminster Assembly there was such harmony of sentiment in respect to the necessity and good order of this rule that it was adopted without debate. "The Long Parliament was not inferior to any legislative body that ever met, and they gave it a legal sanction."

But we receive it, as adopted by the General Assembly {29} of the Church of Scotland, 1645; and as a part of the Covenanted order to which we are bound. Some of the reasons for this excellent rule are:

(1.) Observing this rule we follow the martyrs of Jesus. (2.) Proclamation tends to prevent clandestine marriages, which have many times been a source of domestic woe. (3.) God’s glory should be our end and aim in all things. And the proclamation of banns conduces to that end:

"First, By it the parties about to be married show that they wish to do all things decently and in order.

"Second, They declare that they consider ‘marriage honorable in all.’

"Third, They testify to the church and to the world, that there is no previous engagement to prevent their union.

"Fourth, They testify that there has been no illicit connection between them, or if there has, they are willing to submit to the discipline of the church.

"Fifth, The proclamation of banns gives time for deliberation before the union is formed; and this is of the last importance, for we have reason to believe that one reason why divorces are so common is that the parties marry without deliberation.

"Sixth, It is an intimation by the church, that the parties have a right to marry."

Now we ask again, why dispense with this rule? Such action involves guilt, unless it can be shown that this rule tends to pollute the sanctuary, but we have seen that its design and effect is the very opposite.

We have never seen any objections against it worth considering. It is a regulation so obviously necessary to the purity of the church, and so necessary to conserve the morality of society in general; that "he that rolleth this stone, it will return upon him." Prov. 26.28.

7. Services for the Dead.

These services all belong to heathenism; but so popular and universal have they become, that scarcely any think of {30} laying away their dead without some palaver over them. Thus the Protestant churches are hastening Romeward.

From the time of Constantine the Great and onward many of the idolatrous Pagan customs were engrafted on the Christian church, to make the new religion less offensive to the heathen and more agreeable to their sensuous desires and gross conceptions. And thus arose gradually the gorgeous fabric of Romish idolatry and superstition. Now we see the origin of funeral services—Pagan idolatry and superstition—and the object of bringing them into the Christian church—to gain the heathen for members—the result—idolatry and superstition clothed with a so-called Christian dress.

At the time of the Reformation from Popery the Reformed churches of the continent pointedly contemned funeral services, and by various enactments endeavored to guard against all superstition and other abuses and funerals. The Church of Scotland was most forward in showing the evil of these services and making laws against them. And for about two hundred years, not only Covenanters, but also the sounder denominations observed the prohibitions set down by the church of Scotland in the Directory for Public Worship. But, just as these abominations came in little by little into the Christian church at first; so, as the churches of the Reformation departed step [by step] from the glorious attainments made at such cost, idolatry and superstition gradually returned, and funeral services among the rest. Professed Covenanters are now as diligent in performing these heathen rites as any of the other denominations. But with God’s word before them, and the plain statement of our faithful progenitors, that "they have proved many ways hurtful to the living; therefore let all such things be laid aside;" they who practice these abominations sin against light and knowledge.

8. Military Association with the wicked and Profane.

In the words of George Gillespie: "As we ought to pray, and endeavor that all who are Christ’s may be made {31} one in him, so we ought to pray against, and by all means avoid, fellowship, familiarity, marriages, and military confederacies with known wicked persons, and such as are of a false or heretical religion…. A confederacy engaging us into war with such associations, (idolaters, infidels, heretics, or any known enemies of truth or godliness) is absolutely and in its own nature unlawful: and I find it condemned by good writers, both of the Popish party, of the Lutheran party, and of the Orthodox party." This is a clear statement of what has been the position of the witnessing church for more than two hundred and fifty years on this question of military association with the ungodly.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland interpreted the war with England, known in history as the engagement, as a violation of all six Articles of the Solemn League. God’s word is expressly against such confederacies. The prophet Hanani said to Jehoshaphat, "Shouldst thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord?" 2 Chron. 19.2. See also, Isa. 8.12; 31.1-3; Jer. 2.18; 13.21; 2 Chron. 25.7-8.

The Resolutions which rent asunder the Church, and broke completely the strength of the kingdom of Scotland, were on this very point. Resolutioners and protestors were agreed on the lawfulness of resisting Cromwell, the difference was how it was to be done. The resolutioners said by admitting all "fencible persons"—the profane and scandalous, men of every religion and no religion, into the army. The protestors insisted that to admit such persons was contrary to the word of God, the Solemn League and Covenant, and the acts of the Church in the days of her glory; and instead of proving a strength would in the end prove their weakness and ruin. The result verified their words. The Society people refused to join with Argyle in 1685 because his declaration was not according to our covenants, National, and Solemn League, "and because it opened a door for a confederacy with Sectarians and Malignants." The Act, {32} Declaration and Testimony of 1761 records the testimony of the Reformed Presbytery against such association: "The Presbytery testify against both Church and State for their sinful associations with malignants." In the face of this and much more testimony against mingling with the ungodly many Covenanters in America were carried away from their former principles during the Revolutionary war. And again, in the war of 1812, many joined in with the government in the war.

But it is especially in the civil war that the sinful conduct of Covenanters appears. That war was begun and carried on with the avowed purpose of bringing the seceding states again into subjection, and preserving slavery as it then existed.

Military necessity—not any design to glorify God—compelled the emancipation of the slaves—the Union must be preserved at any cost.

Yet the Synod zealously urged her young men to volunteer in the Union army, and to encourage them the more, framed an army oath, which they tried to pretend was not an oath of allegiance. One minister through the public press cried, "Cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood;" while another minister was in command of a company to aid in "enforcing the Constitution and executing the laws" of the United States. Wm. Milroy says: "We know it is pretend that such association does not identify or incorporate with the nation, to the extent that voting, or taking part in the political affairs of the nation, does. But we also know that the distinction attempted is a deceitful and utterly groundless one; the relation to the government effected by military connection with it, being the very closest and most intimate manner possible." And in 1864 the protestors against the unfaithful action of the majority assigned as reasons: "First, Because it manifests unfaithfulness to Christ our King, whose crown, sceptre, and prerogatives this {33} nation dishonors. Psalm 2.1,2. Second, Because virtual sanction is thus given to dangerous military association and confederation with this wicked government, still in rebellion against Christ. Third, Because it (the Synod) thus proves recreant to the duty it owes to this nation—to exhibit and exemplify the character and blessedness of a people and nation whose God is the Lord." Thus we see that by military association with the nation the Synod took a long step in defection from Reformation attainments.

9. Continuous Singing.

Innovators have always tried to make it appear that their inventions are for reform, the good of the church, improvements over the established order, &c. So those who were determined to transgress the manner of God’s praise, as ordained in his Word, and by competent ecclesiastical authority: declared that the reading of the line interrupted the singing and spoiled the music. Thus they would worship the music,—this is idolatry even if it is more refined than that of the heathen.

The command of God’s Word is, "let all things be done decently and in order," 1 Cor. 14.40. And this applies to singing of praise as well as other parts of divine worship; for the glory of God and the edification of his people, is the twofold end of the Church’s organization in the world, and of all her instituted ordinances. All are required to join in celebrating the praise of God:—"Young men, and maidens; old men and children: let them praise the name of the Lord." Psalm 148.12,13; and the way this is to be performed: "Sing ye praises with understanding." Psalm 47.7. Now because of those who are unlearned, children who have not yet learned, and the aged whose eyes are dim; there should be a precentor, one to read the lines in the audience of all "distinctly, and give the sense, and cause them to understand the reading." Neh. 8.8.

Continuous singing is also contrary to the Directory for Worship: "Where many in the congregation cannot read, it is convenient that the minister, or some other fit person… {34} do read the psalm, line by line, before the singing thereof." The principle is the same if there is but one who cannot read, if "there come in one unlearned or one that believeth not." 1 Cor. 14.24.

And the scandalous manner in which continuous singing was brought in would condemn it, even if the thing were lawful in itself. Those who introduced it in some instances at least, violated every precept of brotherly love, and even of common decency. Some even gloried in being able to shut the mouths of old disciples, and those conscientious of their covenant engagements. But, "he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" 1 John 4.20.

10. The New Covenant. Reformation Principles Exhibited love legitimate fruit, when on May 27, 1871, the Reformed Presbyterian Synod [RPCNA] adopted and swore a substitute for the covenants, National and Solemn League. Having in 1806 buried the Auchensaugh Renovation of the covenants, they now endeavored to bury the original documents.

As one of them said, "Let us bury the body of Moses in Moab, lest it be worshipped." Another said, "The aim of the bond, the design of the drafting committee was to have an American covenant." They would wholly cast aside those noble monuments of the profound erudition, holy zeal, and heroic courage of our godly progenitors; and substitute in their stead a document, general, evasive, ambiguous and defective.

It is no sense a renovation of the covenants, National and Solemn League, for they are not even named. Who would imagine that they could swear these covenants without their being read in the presence of the jurants, it is unbelievable. If the Synod had intended to renew these covenants she would have given us intimation of it somewhere in the New Covenant. There is not the slightest allusion to covenant renovation either in the confession of sin, or in the Bond. The terms of this new bond are general and abstract, for when they say, "recognizing all that is moral in the {35} Covenants of our worthy religious progenitors of the Second Reformation," no covenants are named, and who could know if they meant those of the British Isles, or some other country? And they bring up a slander against the covenants implying that there [were] some things in them that are immoral, yet they do not tell what these things are. Even Festus a heathen Roman deemed it "unreasonable to send a prisoner" (Acts 25.27,) to Csar without specifying the crimes laid to his charge: but the Synod was not ashamed to lay heavy criminal accusations against the covenants without giving one word as to what constituted the immorality, much less to prove the charges. Almost any person, Jew, infidel, or Christian, could agree to recognize all that is moral in the covenants; especially when every one is left to decide for himself what is moral and what is not.

The New Covenant is defective, for it ignores the great principal of National Religion, the foundation principle of the covenants, National and Solemn League and of all the standards of the Second Reformation: Then the Synod practically cast off the Confession of faith, the Catechisms and Directory for worship, as well as the covenants; for national religion is a principle asserted in them all.

"To believe and profess, to practice and defend the true Christian faith and religion, pleasing God and bringing Salvation to men; as God’s eternal truth and only ground of Salvation" is the imperative duty of the nations as well as the Church. For as our fathers declare in the National Covenant in 1638: "The true worship of God and the King’s authority being so straitly joined, as that they have the same friends and common enemies, and stand and fall together," and that the nation "shall be careful to root out of their empire all heretics and enemies to the true worship of God, who shall be convicted by the true Kirk of God." It is the bounden duty of Synod to teach the nation its duty as to national religion; this duty she has ignored. But the church [that is] not for national religion is against it. Neutrality is impossible: {36} "He that is not with Me is against Me." Matt. 12.30.

This New Covenant opens a wide door for every evil confederacy, in it they say: "We will strive to maintain Christian friendship with pious men of every name, and to feel and act as one with all in every land who pursue this grand end." Our fathers say in the Solemn League: "We shall not suffer ourselves, directly or indirectly, by whatsoever combination or persuasion, or terror, to be divided and withdrawn from this blessed union and conjunction." Here are two statements directly antagonistic. Our fathers solemnly covenanted to have no association with malignants, sectaries, and evil instruments.

But this New Bond binds to fellowship with all sects and denominations—Liberal rather than Evangelical—not excluding malignants, sectaries, incendiaries, and evil instruments rather than faithful covenanters. Now all that take this pledge of the New Covenant must renounce the Covenants, National and Solemn League, for "No man can serve two masters." Matt. 6.24.

One of the chief leaders in the covenant of 1871 had in his earlier ministry published an antidote to the defection of his more mature years. Rev. Thomas Sproull in a sermon published in 1841, entitled The duty of Social Covenanting, says: "By the National Covenant our fathers in Scotland laid Popery prostrate. By the Solemn League and Covenant they were enabled successfully to resist prelatic encroachments and civil tyranny. By it (covenanting) 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.

"It is not the way to follow those ‘who through faith and patience inherit the promises,’ [Heb. 6.12,] to refuse the obligation of the oaths by which they bound their souls in allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ…. The church will never renew her covenants aright until she embraces {37} in her obligation all the attainments sworn to in the covenants, National and Solemn League. This was done in the renovation at Auchensaugh."

These sound and scriptural statements can never be reconciled with this language and conduct in 1871: "Cease ye from man whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?" Isa. 2.22. Serious consequences follow unfaithfulness in Covenant engagements, and every one who is guilty must be accountable to the Righteous Judge of all the earth.

Finally, the Covenant of 1871 opened the floodgates for error and disorder; and those that have been pouring through them ever since, have held up this Bond as justifying their course.

11. Obtaining a Civil Charter.

In 1870 Synod ordered the board appointed to hold her property, to take immediate steps to "obtain a charter." And in 1871, this board presented their report showing that they had obtained a charter of Incorporation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. By it Synod’s board of trustees "are made, declared and constituted a body politic and corporate, in law and in fact." This is a gross piece of Erastianism, and wholly inexcusable. Mr. Steele compares it with the Indulgence and says: "That was pressed upon our ancestors with the sword, whereas Charter is a ‘favor’ granted to humble petitioners…. Both the Indulgence and the Charter contain the very essence of Erastianism in its grossest form."

One of themselves (Mr. David Johnston) remarked at the time:—By this act of incorporation Synod tacitly pledged herself "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus." Acts 4.18.

12. Interchange of Pulpits.

This step of defection natively follows occasional hearing, and since it is now everywhere practiced; and the Covenant of 1871 is openly cited and adduced as authority for exchange of pulpits with ministers of evangelical bodies, it {38} is not to be expected that Synod will be clean in this respect.

As early as 1823, a motion was presented to Synod for opening a correspondence with the judicatories of other denominations; and although it was effectually defeated at the time, yet the leaven continued to operate until it has permeated the whole lump. In 1877 the matter came up for animated discussion and action by Synod. The action taken at that time does not utter one word in condemnation of this unholy practice. It merely says: "It has never been the custom of the church to invite them to minister to our people in the preaching of the word." But it may become "custom" by repeated acts of invitation; and the inference is given that each one may do that which is right in his own eyes., since the church has no law against the practice. It has been before Synod since; and this year (1913) it was again brought before, and after discussion a motion was adopted, "reaffirming the action of the Synod of 1877 with the understanding that it prohibits ministers of other denominations from occupying our pulpits in the regular preaching of the word." But there is no prohibition in the action of 1877 and consequently there is none in this. The action is even more pernicious than if there had been no pretended interdict to interchange of pulpits. The impression is given that "the regular preaching of the word" by ministers of other denominations may be hurtful to the Synod’s members; but just let anyone come in his own name or that of some voluntary association, and his way into her pulpits is open.

Immediately after this action Synod gave a series of demonstrations that her pulpits are open to men of every name, Liberal as well as Evangelical, and not excluding self-styled evangelists and teachers of the lowest sort. The floor of Synod is her pulpit, and when it is occupied, at her invitation, by various characters, she cannot consistently deny interchange of pulpits to any of her congregations.

13. Versions of the Psalms.

As error progresses in any of the branches of the visible church, their taste becomes insipid for the songs of {39} divine inspiration and in process of time they are displaced by those of human composition. History furnishes us with the steps often taken in this course of backsliding: the first is continuous singing, then new versions of the Psalms, and finally hymns and organs. This course has been exemplified among United Presbyterians, and in good part among Covenanters. The craving of the carnal mind was not long satisfied by the innovation of continuous singing. They soon began to meddle with the authorized version of the Psalms, and to make new versions. The first was that of 1889, followed in 1905 by a union version, which was further revised in 1909; and in 1911, a committee appointed by Synod produced a version set to music. This last version is well adapted to prepare them for hymns and organs, and is interspersed with popular hymn tunes.

14. Devotional Exercises in Church Courts.

This extra external devotion which has become so popular in our day brings to mind the warning of the Holy Spirit: "Be not righteous over much, neither make thyself over wise: why shouldst thou destroy thyself?" Eccl. 7.16. Devotional exercises are right and dutiful in their proper times and places; but "every particular duty is not to be done at all times." Larger Catechism, Question 99.

The business of "every church court is to judge faithfully for the Lord and impartially toward their brethren." The singing, praying, and reading in church courts is wholly out of place there, and is concomitant with Pharisaic duplicity; and the more extortion and excess there is within the "cup and platter," the louder, more frequent and lengthened are the devotions.

It was observed even by the heathens, Nemo repente fit turpissimus—no one suddenly becomes most base; and so this succession of steps of declension from the practice of our reforming and godly progenitors which we have here enumerated are spread over a little more than a hundred years; but the results are plainly manifest to the impartial {40} observer.

Sabbath schools, and Sabbath school literature have so corrupted Covenanter youth that numbers are falling away to the larger and more popular denominations; and those that remain know little of the principles and practice of true Covenanters: and therefore are easily "carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive." Eph. 4.14.

They have drank so long and so deeply from "the fountain and origin of all our sinful departures from the Covenanted Work of Reformation"—Occasional Hearing; that scarcely anything is too heterodox, silly, and outlandish to suit their itching ears. For proof, the Synod, in court assembled, heard and gave a standing vote of thanks to Billy Sunday, a man whose public career and utterances have been strongly and justly condemned by Lutherans, Methodists, and Congregationalists and his preaching well termed "Billingsgate." Oh for the spirit of a Knox, a Melville, a Cameron, a Peden to rebuke such backslidings! Fie for shame! let such never take in their mouth the appellations of our faithful fathers whom neither blandishments nor persecutions could compel to hear the Curates and the Indulged.

The legitimate effects of continuous singing are seen not only in the multiplication of new versions and metres of the Psalms, and an undue show of praise service in public; but also in the want of it in private. Where family worship is now kept up, it is usually conducted without the singing of praise to God. But when the Psalms are thus cast out from the family devotions, as a logical sequence, their use in public will soon be superceded also.

Some of the recent acts of Synod call to mind our Saviour’s arraignment of the scribes and Pharisees: "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." Matt. 23.24. No student can be licensed, no elder ordained, who uses tobacco. But we ask, are they careful to enquire whether they keep up family worship? whether they "Remember {41} the Sabbath day to keep it holy?" whether they are careful not to join with such as have fallen from the truth and cause of Christ formerly espoused and sworn to? Are they careful to see that they have a walk and conversation agreeable to their profession of faith in Christ Jesus? Do they not remember the words of our blessed Redeemer?—"Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man." Matt. 15.11. These steps of backsliding which we have enumerated, with others that could be mentioned as: voting, holding office under this government, and individual cups at communion, clearly indicate that the Reformed Presbyterian Synod of North America [RPCNA] is treading the outer court.

The doctrines for which our fathers contended manfully even to bonds, imprisonment, and death, are impugned or denied. And one may laud what another condemns, yet both may sit together at the same communion table: indeed it seems that there are no real terms of communion among them.

Never was a testimony for truth more needed than at the present time—for the truth that makes martyrs. The call is imperative, "Come and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more of a reproach." Neh. 2.17.

Woe unto them that go down to the plain of Ono [Neh. 6.2.], that associate themselves with the enemies of Covenanted truth and order! We doubt if God whose name is Jealous will ever honor them to lay a stone on Jerusalem’s walls. "Why abodest thou among the sheepfolds to hear the bleatings of the flocks?…. Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not up to the help of the Lord against the mighty." Judges 5.16,23. "Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered: let them also that hate Him flee before Him." Psalm 68.1. But, "God will save Zion and will build the cities of Judah." Psalm 69.35.