Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

ren,

of Obio, Kentucky and Tenessee, that all who are engaged in the common cause of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, may unite and swell the solemn cry, Thy kingdom come. Even so come, Lord Jesus. Breththe

grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

“P. S. We will meet prepared to encamp on the ground, and continue for several days."

The meeting here called was held a few days before the meeting of Synod, and though by no means so numerous as was expected, was sufficiently numerous to alarm the heart of an Ecclesiastic who has little or.nothing but the favour or the frown of the multitude to direct his conduct. Four of the separating brethren attended the meeting of Synod, and all that could have possibly been done, both in public and private, judicially and extra judicially, was done in order to heal the breach. A committee appointed by the General Assembly met with Synod, and acted as a kind of mediator between Synod and the separating brethren. Before any discussion took place, it was unanimously agreed by all parties concerned, to spend some time in solemn prayer to Almighty God, for his gracious countenance and aid in the case--and Messrs. Marques, a member of the General Assembly committee, and M-one of the separating brethren, were called upon to lead the devotion. All attempts, however, to a reconcilement proved abortive. When the business was directly and formally entered upon, the separating brethren were found to take as high ground as ever they bad assumed. The sum of all that they said was, The Synod must

were sus

come to our terms, we cannot come to theirs. We have, since we were licensed and ordained by the authority of the Presbyterian Church, changed our views of divine truth, and Synod must change their views, if they wish to count us among their members.

The judicial intercourse with the brethren may be considered to have ceased with the meeting of Synod of 1804. Whatever attempts may have been made by individuals, it does not appear that the Synod ever after made any attempts to bring them to a sense of their duty. In the meeting of 1808, the business was once more brought up, and the following motion introduced, which, after due deliberation, was adopted; viz. Whereas, R- M

Barton W. Stone, Richard Mc Nemar, John Duplavy, and J- Tpended by this Synod for declining the jurisdiction of the Confession of Faith of our church, and have continued ever since to enlarge their schism, to multiply their erroneous opinions, to scandalize the Presbyterian church, and to oppose a number of the essential articles of our holy religion--and whereas the church has already used every effort in her power to reclaim them, and as our form of government directs that ministers acting in such a manner be deposed and cut off from the church-Therefore, Resolved, that the above men tioned RM-Barton W. Stone, &c. &c. &c. be DEPOSED, in the name of Christ, and by the authority committed to us, they are hereby DEPOSED from all the functions of the gospel ministry, and cut off from our communition. These brethren being separated from the Synod, they formed themselves into a presbytery. In the name of that presbytery, which they called the Presbytery of Springfield, they, in the course of a few months, published their Apology, or defence of their conduct. ACcording to this publication, and a variety of other evi: dence, both printed and verbal, these men were at this time distinguished by their--1. Denying the doctrine of absolute, and unconditional decrees. 2. Maintaining that Christ died equally for all men, and that all men, notwithstanding a considerable corruption of nature, had still, independant of any special influence of the Holy Spirit, sufficient power to believe-and, 3, That all creeds and confessions ought to be rejected; and the Bible, without any comment, or explanation, acknowledged as the only bond of union and church-fellowship among christians. Though they had forined themselves into a Presbytery, and had been active in organizing distinct societies, yet they, in this publication, as well as in some others, renounce all pretension of forming a distinct party. “They considered (Apology, page 20,) this Presbytery providentially formed to cover the truth from the impending storm, and check the lawless career of opposition.” And, however paradoxical this declaration appeared at the time it was made, we, for our part, have no doubt but they were sincere in making it. The plain matter of fact appears to us, that as to church order or regular plan, they had nothing fixed. Their existence in the Presbyterian form, or in any other, they considered as one of themselves expresses it) only as a kind of asylum for those who were cast out, so that they might come and be there, like David's fatber and mother with the king of Moab-till they would know what God would do for them.

Hence, 'in June 1804, when it had scarcely existed nine months, the Presbytery of Springfield was, with the consent of all the members, dissolved. This dissolution was made known to the world in a small pamphlet entitled “The last Will and Testament of the Presbytery of Springfield.” In the address which accompanied what we would call their last Presbyterial act, their reasons for dissolving are stated in these words ;

“With deep concern they (the members of Springfield Presbytery) viewed the divisions, and party spirit, which have long existed among professing christians; principally owing to the adoption of human creeds and forms of government. While they were united under the name of a Presbytery, they endeavoured to cultivate a spirit of love and unity with all christians; but found it extremely difficult to suppress the idea, that they themselves were a party separate from others. This difficulty increased in proportion to their success in the ministry. Jealousies were excited in the minds of other denominations; and a temptation was laid before those who were connected with them to view them in the same light. At their last meeting they undertook to prepare for the press, a piece entitled Observations on Church Government, in which the world will see the beautiful simplicity of christian church government, stript of human inventions, and lordly traditions. As they proceeded in the investigation of that subject, they soon found, that there was neither precept nor example, in the New Testament for such confederacies as modern Church Sessions, Presbyteries, Synods, General Assemblies, &c. Hence they concluded, that while they continued in the connection, in which they then stood, they were off the foundation of the apostles, and prophets, of which Christ himself is the chief corner stone. However just, therefore, their views of church Government might have been, their publication would have carried the mark of the beast being sent out under the name af a Presbytery."

This extract, though nothing but sophistry, is the only paragraph in the pamphlet which has any thing like sense, and solidity. The preceding part of the pamphlet stands in the form of a last will, and is both nonsensical and profane.

Previous to their dissolution, they bad sent forth a considerable number of preachers-yet, even in sending these, they did not consider themselves as exercising any authority, which any company of christians might not do. The following, written at Springlield, March 1804, may serve as a specimen of their form of licen

ses,

“For as much as our brother, Malcham Worley, has made known to us the exercises of his mind for some time past, expressive of a divine call to labour in word and doctrine; and we being satisfied, from a long and intimate acquaintance with him, of his talents, both natural and acquired, being such, as thro' the grace of God, may reader bim useful; and considering that the way of

« PreviousContinue »