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GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
This body met in Philadelphia, on being not the exclusive right of PreThursday, 21st May 1846, the same lates to the name of Bishops, which all day on which the two Assemblies in intelligent Episcopalians abandon, but Scotland meet. Such, we believe, is the title of their bishops to be called the usual arrangement, andit is a pleas- apostles. ing evidence of the feelings with which our Presbyterian brethren across the
Title of Bishop.-When the roll was read
in the afternoon of the first day of the ses. Atlantic regard the Scottish Church, sions of the Assembly, Dr R. J. Breckinridge that they seem to wish to have the moved that the word Bishop be struck out in meetings of the Supreme Courts simul- every case where it was applied to the clerical
delegates, and that the word minister be subtaneous. It is attended, however, with
stituted in its place. This motion prevailed this disadvantage, that it makes the by a large majority. With regard to the course of formal correspondence long title Bishop, there are certain points as to and tedious; an inconvenience experi- stantially agreed.
which all parties may be considered as sub
One is, that in the New enced in the recent discussions about Testament, the title is given to those officers Slavery in this country, when some
in the Church who are appointed to rule,
teach, and ordain. Another is, that the misunderstanding arose from parties terms Presbyter and Bishop are applied to not considering that the letter of the same officers. Prelatists long contended the Commission of our Assembly, in against this position, but have at last, with
common consent, conceded it. In so doing, August 1844, could only be answered they have conceded almost the entire ground by the American Assembly in May of argument from Scripture in behalf of pre1845, and that answer could only come
lacy, and assumed the task of proving, that,
though in the apostolic age a Bishop was a before the Assembly here, in May Presbyter, and nothing more, in the imme. 1846.
diately succeeding age, he was a Prelate. A The following abstract of the pro- Bishop and Presbyter were convertible terms
third point of beyond dispute is, that, though ceedings of the American Assembly, in the apostolic church, yet, as the hieraris taken with abridgement (but with- chial principle gradually gained ground, the out omitting any of the topics) from
term Bishop was appropriated to one class of
the clergy, and Presbyter to another, and the Princeton Review for July 1846.
that the usus loquendi of the whole Church It is a very able digest, and the topics for centuries has given this restrictive meanare deeply interesting. Our readers ing to the word Bishop. The question, then,
is, is it desirable to change this long-estawill bear in mind that the body of blished usage, and to restore the word to its Presbyterians represented by that As- Scriptural meaning. We have no hesitation sembly, are the section often called
in saying, that, if practicable, it would be
desirable ; but believing it to be impracticathe “Old School," whose theology may ble, we regard the attempt as altogether inbe said to partake, on the whole, of expedient. We are glad, therefore, that the the character of that sounder Calvin
motion to substitute the word Minister for
that of Bishop in the minutes of the Assembly ism, of which we have so excellent a
prevailed, and we hope the matter will rest specimen in Hodge's tract on the Atone. where it is. ment, recently republished in this country.
II. The second topic is the “ vexed I. The first subject may seem of little question” of Slavery.
We, of course, consequence,
“What's in a name?" It do not intend in this cursory way to was characteristic of American im- deal with so great a subject in the way petuosity, perhaps, that our friends of propounding our own views. We made the attempt to rescue the word submit, however, that the American “ Bishop” from the unjust prelatic Presbyterians are entitled to the benemonopoly of it; it is characteristic of fit of the following calm, temperate, American good sense, that they aban- and manly exposition of their opinions, don it. The remarks that follow are in any subsequent discussions in which judicious ; the real matter now at issue their conduct may require to be canbetween Prelatists and Presbyterians vassed.
Slavery.-This subject was before the Christian temper. The two brethren who Assembly on several occasions. The com. alone appeared as technical abolitionists, mittee on bills and overtures had this matter Messrs Fullerton and Thomas, we fear would brought before them in various ways, and lose caste with their own party, could the submitted, in referonce sto it, the following reasonable and mild spirit with which they report, viz.
presented their views be known. Whatever ** Overture, No. 17. A collection of me- may be their doctrines, they certainly exhimorials and petitions on the subject of sla- bited nothing of the animus which has disvery, containing an expression of opinion by tinguished and disgraced the abolitionists as the Ĝeneral Association of Massachusetts ; a body. No one could listen to the debate seven petitions from a number of ministers, on this subject without being satisfied that elders, and private members of our Church; in our Church there is a remarkable and corfive memorials from presbyteries, viz., the dial unanimity of opinion in regard to it. Presbyteries of Beaver, Hocking, Blairsville, Should a collision, in reference to this matNew Lisbon, and Albany, and a resolution ter ever occur, it must arise from misunderfrom the Synod of Cincinnati, all requesting standing, or from a culpable want of a right of the Assembly to utter additional testimony spirit. It is notorious that, in this country, on the subject of slavery, or at least to re- men are divided into three classes as regards affirm or explain its former testimony. In slavery. The one hold that slaveholding is view of these memorials and petitions, the in itself a sin, and ought to be made a term committee recommended the adoption of the of Christian communion ; that every man following minutes, viz.
who holds slaves, should, after due admoni. “ Our Church has, from time to time, dur. tion, be excluded from the Church. We are ing a period of nearly sixty years, expressed not aware that this doctrine had a single ad. its views on the subject of slavery. During vocate on the floor of the Assembly. Even all this period it has held and uttered sub- the two brethren above mentioned, who stantially the same sentiments—believng claimed to be abolitionists, carefully avoided that this uniform testimony is true and ca- taking this ground, and so long as northern pable of vindication from the word of God; churches of any denomination repudiate this the Assembly is, at the same time, clearly of unscriptural dogma, there can be no justifiopinion, that it has already deliberately and able cause of schism, as far as this matter is solemnly spoken on the subject with saffi. concerned, between them and their southern cient fulness and clearness, Therefore,
brethren. Resolved, That no further action upon A second class go to the very opposite ex. this subject is at present needed.”
treme, and maintain that slavery is a good It was moved as an amendment to the and desirable institution, and ought to be resolution with which this report concludes, perpetuated; that is, since there must always that a clause should be added, declaring that be a labouring class of society, it is best in the decision of the Assembly of 1845 on the an economical, social, and moral point of subject of slavery was not to be understood view, that they should be in a state of slaas contradicting or rescinding any previous very. They insist that the slaves are better testimony of the General Assembly on the off, not merely as to physical comforts, but subject. The majority of the house prefer- in their moral and social condition, than the ring a direct vote on the report, laid this free labouring population of any nation in amendment on the table, and the report was the world. This is a doctrine which had few adopted by a large majority. Whereupon, if any advocates, even among men of the the Rev. R. M. White gave notice of his in. world, in this country, until within a few tention to enter a protest against the above years; and we know no Presbyterian minisdecision; and Rev. Thomas S. Thomas gave ter who has ever avowed it. This doctrine, a similar notice, for different reasons. In as far as we know, is confined to certain pothe afternoon, however, Mr White moved the liticians and men of the world. following resolution : “ Resolved, That, in The third class, which includes the great the judgment of this house the action . body of our Church, and of the enlightened of the General Assembly of 1845 [in re- and good men, in every part of our country, ference to slavery] was not intended to maintain the doctrine which our General deny or rescind the testimony often uttered Assembly has from first to last inculcated, by the General Assembly previous to that and which was proclaimed so clearly, and date.” As substantially the same thing had with so much unanimity, last year at Cincinbeen proposed in the morning as an amend- nati. That doctrine is: ment to the report of the committee on bills 1. That since Christ and his apostles did and overtures, some doubt was expressed as not make the holding of slaves a bar to comto whether the above resolution was in order. munion, we have no authority to do so. The But as the house did not reject the amend. Assembly says, they cannot pronounce slavement, and had not in any way expressed a holding a heinous and scandalous sin, calcujudgment contrary to the sentiment which it lated to bring upon the Church the curse of expressed, it was pronounced in order and God. adopted, ayes 88, nays 32. The report of the 2. That the laws of many of the states recommittee was adopted by a vote of ayes 126, lating to slaves are unjust and oppressive ; nays 29; but Mr White and five others sub- that it is sinful to traffic in slaves for the sequently declared themselves satisfied with sake of gain, or for a like motive, or for the the subsequent action of the house on this convenience of the master, to separate hussubject, the vote, therefore, should stand bands and wives, or parents and children. ayes 132, Days 23.
3. That the slaves have a right to religious The results above indicated were not ar- instruction, and to be treated as rational, acrived at without a good deal of debate, which countable, and immortal beings; and, consewas conducted in an uniformly kind and quently, that it is the duty of their masters so to regard and treat them, performing to- by the former to the latter, that they wards them all the duties belonging to this relation specified in the Word of God. The
should join together in the celebration Assembly, therefure, exhorted masters to re- of the Lord's Supper. The proposal member that they have a Master in heaven, was declined : and the declinature has and that they are bound to do unto others what they would have others do unto them. been represented as illiberal and unSoch is the obvious sense of the declaration charitable. We sincerely regret to adopted by the Assembly of 1845, which has find Dr Cox, who belongs to what he commended itself to the judgment and con
calls the “ Constitutional Assembly,” science of the vast body of our own Church, and of true Christians in every part of the -in a letter addressed by him to the land. Such has ever been substantially the Editor of the Presbyterian Review, testimony of our Church on this subject. Though there is this general agreement on
dated Edinburgh, 23d July 1846,this subject throughout our Church, it is [Presb. Review for October,] indulging very evident there is great diversity of sen- in a strain of observation, upon this timent as to what ought to be the action of the Assembly in relation to it. Some take subject, certainly very inconsistent the ground that the Assembly bas no right with the spirit in which his “ Constito say a word on the subject; that slavery is tutional Brethren" professed to make a civil institution, and lies as much beyond
the the province of Church courts, as matters of
Dr Cox was on his way
proposal. government or politics. It is, however, as to the Evangelical Alliance when he far as we know, only one here and there who passed through Edinburgh. We trust take this extreme ground. It is too obri
he would not have penned the paraously untenable for any but excited men to venture to assume,
graphs to which we refer on his way Others again, who readily admit that the home again from the Alliance. He Assembly has the right to speak on this as on other subjects involving questions of duty, surely must see, upon reflection, that still hold that the less that is said the better; the tone of triumph which he assumes, that such is the state of mind of southern
on the score of greater liberality, and men that they receive with impatience the annunciation even of truths which they them- the sharp and unbrotherly terms in selves are ready to avow, when that annun. which he speaks of the hesitation of ciation comes from non-slaveholders, and the other party-are rather apt to that more good would be done by allowing the matter to rest in southern bands. Theró foster, than to allay, the suspicion, may be some foundation for such remarks, that some, at least, of the liberals but it must be remembered that the General might go into the proposal with representative of the whole Church, of the the more complacency from their south as well as the north. It should be re. perceiving that it might put their membered too, that the Church
one; it has
stricter and more strait-laced brethren a common cbaracter and common responsi. bility. If false doctrine, or evil practice pre
in a fix.” We do not allege this : vail in one part of the Church, it is the sin nor does the writer of the following of the whole, and of course the obligation to explanation assert it. He calmly correct the evil lies on the whole. The general Assembly, therefore, as representing the gives the view which his own Assemwhole Church, has not only the right, but is bly took of the matter, which certainly bound to declare the duties of her members, places their co in a different wherever they may live. To the General Assembly, therefore, other churches have a light from that in which Dr Cox reright to look, and, in fact, ever have looked presents it. For ourselves, we give no for a testimony on this subject.
opinion on the point, either of the III. We the rather direct the at- propriety and seasonableness of the tention of our readers to the next ex- proposal being made, or of the wartract, as explaining a proceeding which rantableness of its being declined. has been somewhat misconstrued. It We may observe, however, that we so happened this year, that the Trien- are somewhat afraid of an artificial nial Assembly of the other section of and scenic use of this holy ordinance, Presbyterians, (who are sometimes as it were, ad captandum, or for effect; called “ The New School,”—though to make a display of closer union they disown that appellation, and than ordinary church-fellowship alclaim to be considered the “ Constitu- lows; and to cover over differences tional" body), met at the same time, and divisions which the parties thus and in the same town, with the Annual joining still regard as of magnitude General Assembly, whose actings are enough to require continued separanow before us. A proposal was made tion, and even mutual protest.
Slavery. This subject was before the Christian temper. The two breth Assembly on several occasions. The com. alone appeared as technical abo? mitteo on bills and overtures had this matter Messrs Fullerton and Thomas, we f brought before them in various ways, and lose caste with their own party, submitted, in referonce sto it, the following reasonable and mild spirit with report, viz.
presented their views be known. Overture, No. 17. A collection of me- may be their doctrines, they cer morials and petitions on the subject of sla. bited nothing of the animus ro very, containing an expression of opinion by tinguished and disgraced the a' the General Association of Massachusetts ; a body. No one could listen seven petitions from a number of ministers, on this subject without being elders, and private members of our Church; in our Church there is a rem: five memorials from presbyteries, viz., the dial unanimity of opinion Presbyteries of Beaver, Hocking, Blairsville, Should a collision, in refer New Lisbon, and Albany, and a resolution ter ever occur, it must aris from the Synod of Cincinnati, all requesting standing, or from a culpable of the Assembly to utter additional testimony spirit. It is notorious that on the subject of slavery, or at least to re- men are divided into three affirm or explain its former testimony. In slavery. The one hold th view of these memorials and petitions, the in itself a sin, and ought committee recommended the adoption of the of Christian communion following minutes, viz.
who holds slaves, should “ Our Church has, from time to time, dur. tion, be excluded from ing a period of nearly sixty years, expressed not aware that this doc its views on the subject of slavery. During vocate on the floor of all this period it has held and uttered sub- the two brethren ab stantially the same sentiments—believng claimed to be abolition that this uniform testimony is true and ca- taking this ground, a pable of vindication from the word of God; churches of any dene the Assembly is, at the same time, clearly of unseriptural dogma, opinion, that it has already deliberately and able cause of schism solemnly spoken on the subject with safi. concerned, between cient fulness and clearness, Therefore, brethren.
abyterian " Resolved, That no further action upon A second class
he elders this subject is at present needed."
treme, and maint
milar memoIt was mored as an amendment to the and desirable in
on were placed resolution with which this report concludes, perpetuated; the
gate to the other that a clause should be added, declaring that be a labouring into olty. After my the decision of the Assembly of 1845 on the an economical
Fow in the Christian subject of slavery was not to be understood view, that the
Dom the pen of a lay. as contradicting or rescinding any previous very. They in
a joint celebration of testimony of the General Assembly on the off, not merel
by the two Assemblies. It subject. The majority of the house prefers in their moral my feelings. I was dering a direct vote on the report, laid this free labourin lume suggestion. I felt as if I amendment on the table, and the report was the world.
with higher conceptions of the adopted bra large majority. Whereupon, if any adyo the Rer. R. M. White gare notice of his in. world, in
glors of our common Christi
I permitted to see two such botention to enter a protest against the above
and decision ; and Rev. Thomas S. Thomas gave ter who has ble, so learned, so influential,
so alienated, sit down together a similar notice, for different reasons. In as far as the afternoon, howerer, Mr White moved the liticians wholly under the impulse of
s table. Without committing following resolution: “ Resolved, That, in The ti
5. I arose in our Assembly and the judgment of this house the action body of
the Committee on Devotional of the General Assembly of 1845 (in re
5 instructed to confer with the ference to slarery] was not intended to mainte of the other Assembly upon this deny or reseind the testimony often uttered Assem
without debate, unanimously, and by the General Assembly previous to that and w
selamation, the resolution date." As substantially the same thing had with
is the origin of this matter." been proposed in the morning as an amend- nati.
us from his account, the motion, ment to the report of the committee on bills 1
osher Assembly was concerned, and orertures some doubt was expressed as not
matter of impulse, and that as $ whether the abore resolution was in order ΤΗΣ
real morers in the business were but as the house did not reject the amend.
was intended as preliminary to ment, and had nos in any way expressed a
for the union of the two bodies. judgment contrary to the sentiment which it la
Sie Campbell informes us that expressed, it was pronounced in order and
the memorial from Bowling adopted, ares S& mars 2. The report of the
ra the sudjeet of reunion, praying committee was adopted by a rote of ayes 126,
molesto appoint committees of conmars ; but Mr White and fire others sub
as wanimously if I missequently declared themselves satisfied with
the memorial was accepted, and a the subsequent action of the house on this
appointed, of which I had the setjeet, the rota, therefore, should stand
the chairman. This is another ares IS. mars
she wanso consideration with The results adore indicated were not al
a masters sometimes pass large rived st without a good deal of debate, which was conducted in an uniformly kind a
to the proposal for the joint
ner gave rise courtesy and fellowship, and by placing the
usage, deprived the refusal of everything that
up (reserving several
-t of it is
o portance vill well rerusal. Our clear and calm iments on both intous question of nes respecting eduartily rejoice in the pted by the Assembly; er the reasoning in fa
quite unanswerable. We y commend the summary of
ning, as given in what we amit, without farther note or nont, to the judgment of candid Christian minds. Our American
thren have every possible inducelient and temptation to acquiese in the plan of mixed and miscellaneous education. They have also had a trial of
it. And their testimony in favour of у
the same system, substantially that the
Free Church of Scotland is seeking to .) parcought carry out, is peculiarly impressive and d to un. emphatic. draw our Pois against Parochial Schools.-A committee, of which 01 testimony. the Rev. Dr James W. Alexander was chair
ence from the man, appointed by the last Assembly, made together would an important report on the subject of Paro. adequate reason chial Schools, which was read and ordered to chey ought now to be printed for the use of the members. The wonderful that those report closed with the following resolutions, matter in this light,
viz : ose the measure.
“ Resolved, 1st, That, in the judgment of was a single member on the General Assembly, any scheme of educably, who was prepared tion is incomplete which does not include inveh he regarded as a recan. struction in the Scriptures, and in those doc
mony borne in years past trines of grace which are employed by the valent errors of the New Di Holy Spirit in the renewal and sanctification
regarded the union of the two of the soul. at present constituted, as even “ Resolved, 2d, That, in consideration of auch less as desirable. There were the blessings derived to us, through our fore. arge portion of the Assembly, who fathers, from the method of mingling the docuave gladly voted for accepting the trines of our church with the daily teachings
n, could it have been done with una- of the school, the Assembly earnestly de-, but who thought it undesirable after sire as near an approach to this method as matter had been so much debated and may comport with the circumstances
this bed. The minute adopted was a compro- country.
satisfying no part of the Assembly en- “ Resolved, 3d. That the Assembly regards tirely, yet generally agreed to as the best with great approval, the attempt of such luing that could be done under the circum- churches as bave undertaken schools ar 1.
That minute, by distinctly recog- their proper direction; as well as th. nising the other Assembly as a branch of the which has led individual friends of : church, by professing towards them Christian to aid the same cause.