Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Archive for the ‘Old School/New School Division’ Category

Post-GA, 1836

In Old School/New School Division, Princeton Theological Seminary, The Charleston Observer on 01/07/2013 at 09:04

I continue to gather primary source materials on the events leading up to the momentous 1837 split of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. The following article appears to have been written by the Rev. Benjamin Gildersleeve, editor of The Charleston Observer and one who showed some sympathies for the New School side of the debate. Here he writes in opposition to talk of division, utilizing to good effect an article which had recently appeared in the Princeton Seminary journal, The Biblical Repertory.

THE PRESENT ASPECT OF OUR CHURCH.
[excerpted from The Charleston Observer, 10.40 (1 October 1836): 157, columns 2-5.]

The Biblical Repertory for July, contains an able review of the proceedings of the last General Assembly, and as the question of a division of the Church has been mooted even at the South, we take pleasure in copying from it the concluding remarks which we recommend to the particular attention of our readers.

1. In the first place, nothing, in so momentous a concern, should be done under the sudden impulse of even good feeling. A zeal for truth, a sense of wrong, a conviction of danger to the best interests of the church may be so excited by recent events, as to urge even wise men, to measures, which in cooler moments neither their judgments nor conscience would approve.

2. Nothing should be done on vague or indefinite grounds. Men are very apt to satisfy themselves of the propriety of taking almost any course, not obviously immoral, if they feel that they are actuated by good motives. It is not enough, however, in such matters, that we should desire to promote the purity of the church, or the general interests of religion; we must have some definite principles, which will commend themselves to the understanding and conscience, and which will hear the scrutiny of posterity———of the bar of God. We must be able to give a reason for our conduct which shall satisfy the impartial and competent, that it is right and wise; that it necessarily results from our principles. We consider this a matter of great importance. Every day affords melancholy examples of the confusion and inconsistency which arise from acting on the mere general ground of doing what seems to make for truth and righteousness. Measures involving precisely the same principles are opposed or advocated by the same individuals, as they happen to make for or against the cause or the party which seems to them to be the best. We see constantly in our public judicatories, the power of the courts extended or contracted, the rules of procedure enforced to the letter or construed away to nothing, as the occasion requires. This is not always, nor, we trust generally, the result of dishonesty. It is the result of the want of fixed principles. Hence this inconsistency; this justifying to-day, what was condemned yesterday; this applauding in one man what is censured in another. If so much evil results from this source, in matters of ordinary routine, what must be the consequences of random action, on occasions which threaten organic changes, whose effects are to last for ages? Read the rest of this entry »

The Board Controversy, 1841-1861

In Charles Hodge, James Henley Thornwell, Old School/New School Division on 26/04/2012 at 10:05

Some of our readers may be aware of the famous debate in 1860 between James Henley Thornwell and Charles Hodge over the matter of church boards and whether such agencies were legitimate church structures.
As it turns out, this debate did not spring up overnight, but had actually been brewing for more than twenty years, basically ever since the 1837 split of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. into its Old School and New School factions.
A recent request for a few articles from that debate prompted some investigation and I’ve been posting the results of that research on this web page:

Jure Divino Presbyterianism and the Board Debates, 1841-1861.

Everything you’d ever want to know and more!

But if you just want a basic introduction to the story, there is an excellent introduction to this debate provided by the Rev. John Bailey Adger in his autobiography.  Adger had written a review of the PCUS General Assembly of 1860 in which these debates played such a central part, and twenty-five pages of his autobiography are spent in review of the debates, under the title of “The Board Controversy”.  I’ve provided a shortened version of that account here.

Adger begins his account with an intriguing comment from Dr. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, stating that this board controversy was a leftover from the Church’s division of 1837 :

The Board Controversy. [pp. 362-387 of My Life and Times, by the Rev. John Bailey Adger.]

Dr. Palmer well remarks that there was left over a “residuary bequest”—”a sort of remainder”—from the original controversy with which the church was rent in 1837-’38 [see Palmer’s Life and Letters of Thornwell, pp. 182-221.] This bequest and remainder was the board controversy. One expression which he uses in relation to this very point is liable to be misunderstood. He says, “During the period, when the church was brought under a species of vassalage to Congregationalism, the great national societies, which usurped her functions, conducted their operations by the agency of boards. The church had become familiar with that mode of action,” etc. No one will deny the influence of Congregationalism upon the Presbyterian Church, especially in those portions of it most contiguous to New England; nor that in the Northwestern wilderness, where the American Education Society and the American Home Mission Society chiefly operated, there was brought about a vassalage of the Presbyterian Church to Congregationalism. Of course, Dr. Palmer did not mean to apply his remark to our church in all its parts and portions. Neither is he to be understood as meaning that our whole church had become familiar with that mode of action in the sense of becoming, in any degree, satisfied with it. The sturdy Scotch-Irish Presbyterians of Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, and the Carolinas, who constituted the bulk of our Presbyterian Church in those days, had been educated better by their fathers, and could not approve the mixing up of the church with voluntary associations. They tolerated the Plan of Union, but, from the first, they did not like it, and it was influence from such quarters that finally overthrew it. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons of the Past

In Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., The Presbyterian on 16/09/2011 at 16:26

Who Were the Old School Presbyterians?

By Rev. Charles E. Edwards, D.D.

[The Presbyterian 99.44 (31 October 1929): 6-8.]

IF America forgets the lessons of history, especially church history, she will cease to be the America that we love. The Presbyterian family of denominations have made great contributions to the kingdom of God for centuries. But if they forget the lessons of the past, they will cease to be Presbyterians, and will be like reprobate silver. Even religious controversies have their lessons. Sweet are the uses of adversity. For various reasons it is advisable that the noble services of the Old School Presbyterians should be better known.

First of all, it is well to recall that the separation of Presbyterians in America into the two denominations, Old and New School, was not a sudden event, with no previous warnings. When the enemies of the Eighteenth Amendment raise the question whether it was adopted too hastily, those loyal to the Constitution have overwhelming proofs of the long period of which it was the culmination. And the Presbyterian Assembly of 1837 did not originate the discord which had grown in intensity from 1801 to 1837. Read the rest of this entry »

Chalmers #9 – Cause of Doctrinal Trouble, Part II

In Benjamin B. Warfield, Chalmers W. Alexander, Modernism, Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S. [PCUS], Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Princeton Theological Seminary, Robert Dick Wilson, Wm. Childs Robinson on 05/06/2011 at 22:21

The Cause Of The Doctrinal Trouble In The Northern Presbyterian Church

(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander
Jackson, Miss.
[THE SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIAN JOURNAL 8.14 (15 November 1949): 5-9.]

This is the ninth in the series of articles by Chalmers W’. Alexander under the heading, “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance And Co-operation.” This is an informative new series of articles written by one of the most able laymen in the Southern Presbyterian Church.

When the reorganization of Princeton Seminary took place in 1929, four outstanding members of the faculty of Princeton Seminary voluntarily resigned their positions in that institution. And they left its campus, never to return.

At that time I was in my freshman year at Princeton University, which is located a few blocks’ distance from the campus of Princeton Seminary. Who were these four outstanding men?

The Scholars Who Left Princeton Seminary

One was Dr. J. Gresham Machen, probably the world’s greatest New Testament scholar at that time. Dr. Machen had received his A.B. degree from Johns Hopkins University, his M.A. from Princeton University, and his B.D. from Princeton Seminary. Then he had studied at the Universities of Marburg and Goettingen, both in Germany. Dr. Machen had been a member of the faculty of Princeton Seminary since 1906.

Another was Dr. Robert Dick Wilson, probably the world’s greatest Old Testament scholar at that time. Dr. Wilson had received his A.B. and his M.A. from Princeton University and his Th.B. from Western Theological Seminary. Then he had studied for two years at the University of Berlin prior to receiving his Ph.D. from Princeton University. Dr. Wilson, a great linguist, had mastered some two dozen languages collateral with Old Testament languages in order to throw light upon the Old Testament and its manuscripts. He had been a member of the Princeton Seminary faculty since 1900.

The third man was Dr. Oswald T. Allis, one of America’s greatest Old Testament scholars today. Dr. Allis received his A.B. from the University of Pennsylvania, his B.D. from Princeton Seminary, his M.A. from Princeton University, and his Ph.D. from the University of Berlin. Dr. Allis had been a member of the faculty of Princeton Seminary since 1910, and since 1918 he had been the Editor of The Princeton Theological Review.

And the fourth man was Dr. Cornelius Van Til, one of the ablest Professors of Apologetics in America at the present time. Dr. Van Til had received his A.B. from Calvin College, his Th.B. and his Th.M. from Princeton Seminary, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. He had joined the Princeton Seminary faculty in 1928.

These four unusually great scholars left Princeton Seminary and, in association with other men of like mind, they proceeded to found Westminster Theological Seminary, at Philadelphia, in the autumn of 1929. Read the rest of this entry »

Chalmers #8 : The Cause of Doctrinal Troubles

In Auburn Affirmation (1924), Benjamin B. Warfield, Chalmers W. Alexander, J. Gresham Machen, Modernism, Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., Princeton Theological Seminary, Robert Dick Wilson, Samuel G. Craig, Southern Presbyterian Journal on 02/06/2011 at 21:47

The Cause Of The Doctrinal Trouble In The Northern Presbyterian Church

(“Exploring Avenues Of Acquaintance And Co-operation”)
By Chalmers W. Alexander
Jackson, Miss.
[THE SOUTHERN PRESBYTERIAN JOURNAL 8.13 (1 November 1949): 9-11.]

This is the eighth in the series of articles by Chalmers W. Alexander under the heading, “Exploring Avenues of Acquaintance And Co-operation.” This is an informative new series of articles written by one of the most able laymen in the Southern Presbyterian Church.

What has been the principal cause of the doctrinal disturbance in the Northern Presbyterian Church?

Origin Of The Doctrinal Disturbance

In order to understand fully the answer to that question it is necessary to look back briefly over some of the events which took place in the early history of Presbyterianism in America. By the close of the eighteenth century, the Presbyterian Church in this country found itself working side by side with the Congregational Church in trying to build churches and furnish ministers for the nation’s expanding population, which was spreading throughout the Middle West. And in 1801 a plan of union was adopted whereby the Presbyterian General Assembly and the General Association of the State of Connecticut (Congregational) should work together, rather than in competition.

Old School” Theology Versus “New School” Theology

This union of 1801 marks the earliest discernible beginning of the decline of what we now refer to as the Northern Presbyterian Church, for the Congregational churches adhered to the liberal “New School” theology. This liberal “New School” theology differed from the Presbyterian, or conservative “Old School,” theology in several important points of doctrine.

The conservative “Old School” theology of the Presbyterians rested solidly on the teachings of the Holy Bible as they are outlined in the Westminster Confession of Faith and in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. The liberal “New School” theology differed from its teachings, for instance, with reference to the extent of the guilt of Adam as it is imputed to his descendents, and with reference to the Calvinist doctrine of the definite atonement of Christ.

The New England theologians, who were the trainers of the Congregational ministers, were not inclined to consider very seriously the principles which meant much to the Presbyterian ministers who, for the most part, came from Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Consequently friction developed between the two denominational groups, and in 1837 they severed their relationship.

The Presbyterian Groups Separate

But prior to 1837, the liberal “New School” theology of the Congregational Church had been embraced by some of the Presbyterian ministers. Accordingly, within a few months after the separation of the Congregational Church and the Presbyterian Church, there occurred a separation between the conservative “Old School” and the liberal “New School” groups which now existed in the Presbyterian Church. Read the rest of this entry »

Old School Presbyterian’s Proposed Reform – Philadelphia Convention (1837)

In Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on 13/04/2010 at 18:35

METHOD OF REFORM.

Such being the state of things in the Presbyterian Church, we believe that the time is fully come, for the adoption of some measures, which shall speedily furnish relief from the evils already referred to. Under this conviction, we present ourselves respectfully before you, praying you to lose no time, in so adjusting the important matters at issue, as to restore at once purity and peace to our distracted Church. We are obliged to record our most solemn and settled belief, that the elements of our present discord are now too numerous, too extensively spread and essentially opposed, to warrant any hope that they can, in any way be composed, so long as they are compressed within the limits of our present ecclesiastical organization. Mutual confidence is gone, and is not to be restored by any temporizing measures. This is a sad, but a plain truth. It is a result over which the Church has long mourned, and at which the world has scoffed–but for the production of which we, and those who agree with us, cannot hold ourselves responsible, firmly believing, as we do, that we are, in this controversy, contending for the plain and obvious principles of Presbyterian doctrine and polity. In a word, it needs but a glance at the general character, the personal affinities, and the geographical relations of those who are antagonists in the present contest–to be satisfied that our present evils have not originated within, but have been brought from without–and are, in a great degree, the consequences of an unnatural intermixture of two systems of ecclesiastical action–which are in many respects entirely opposite in their nature and operation. Two important families in the great Christian community, who might have lived peacefully under different roofs–and maintained a friendly intercourse with each other–have been brought beneath the same roof, and yet without an entire incorporation. Contact has not produced real union, except in a comparatively few instances : on the contrary, original differences of opinions and prejudices in relation to the principles of government and order, in many points of great practical moment, have, for a number of years, been widening instead of narrowing–and those who would have been friendly as neighbours, have, at last, by being forced together into the same dwelling, after many and painful conflicts, furnished abundant evidence of the necessity of some effectual remedy. We cannot consent to meet any longer upon the floors of our several judicatories, to contend against the visible inroads of a system, which, whether so designed or not, is crippling our energies, and which, by obvious but covert advances, menaces our very existence. We are in danger of being driven out from the home of our childhood.

While, however, we complain and testify against the operations of this unnatural, unwise, and unconstitutional alliance just referred to, we wish it to be distinctly understood that we do it, chiefly because of our sincere belief that the doctrinal purity of our ancient Confession of Faith is endangered–and not because of the preferences we have for a particular system of mere church government and discipline. We hold the latter to be important mainly from their relation to the former. Hence, we wish it to be distinctly understood, that we have not, nor do we wish to have, any controversy with the system of Congregational church government upon its own territory. Towards the churches of New England, which stand fast in the faith once delivered to the saints–towards the distinguished and excellent brethren in the Lord in those churches, who are now testifying against the errors which are troubling them, as they are troubling us, we entertain the most fraternal esteem and affection. Let there be no strife between us : and there will be none, so long as there is no effort made by either body to intrude upon the domestic concerns of the other. We want no more than to be allowed the fair and unimpeded action of our own ecclesiastical principles. We desire to stand upon our own responsibility–and not to be made involuntary sharers in the responsibility of other bodies and systems of action, with which we cannot entirely harmonize. We desire to perform our Master’s work upon principles which we prefer, because they are the first principles of our own ecclesiastical system of government–recognizing at every step the propriety and necessity of responsibility, and refusing to commit to any man, or body of men, large and important trusts, without the right of review, control, and, if needs be, speedy correction.

These being our views, we earnestly urge upon the attention of the Assembly, the following items of reform.

1. While we wish to maintain, as heretofore, a friendly correspondence and interchange of annual visits, with the evangelical associations of New-England–we are anxiously looking to the General Assembly in the hope and belief that it will take into immediate consideration the plan of union adopted by the Assembly of 1801, (See Digest, p. 297, 298)–and that it will perceive in the original unconstitutionality and present pernicious operations of that plan, reasons for its immediate abrogation. Read the rest of this entry »

New School Errors of Discipline – Philadelphia Convention (1837)

In Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on 11/04/2010 at 19:54

Continuing the next section in the Testimony and Memorial of the Philadelphia Convention (1837), here is their listing of the New School errors in relation to church discipline:

IN RELATION TO DISCIPLINE.

That a state of affairs even approaching to that over which we now mourn should obstruct the exercise of Discipline, may not only be easily supposed, but unhappily the very evils which rendered it imperatively necessary, conspired to prevent the possibility of its regular exercise. A Church unsound in faith is necessarily corrupt in practice. Truth is in order to Godliness; and when it ceases to make us pure, it is no longer considered worthy of being contended for.

With the woful departures from sound doctrine, which we have already pointed out, and the grievous declensions in Church order heretofore stated, has advanced step by step, the ruin of all sound discipline in large portions of our Church, until in some places our very name is becoming a public scandal, and the proceedings of persons and churches connected with some of our Presbyteries, are hardly to be defended from the accusation of being blasphemous. Amongst other evils, of which this Convention and the Church have full proof, we specify the following;

1. The impossibility of obtaining a plain and sufficient sentence against gross errors, either in thesi, or when found in books printed under the name of Presbyterian ministers, or when such ministers have been directly and personally charged. Read the rest of this entry »

New School Errors of Polity – Philadelphia Convention (1837)

In Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on 09/04/2010 at 18:08

Continuing the text of the Testimony and Memorial issued by the 1837 Philadelphia Convention, regarding the errors being taught by some among what came to be termed The New School:

IN RELATION TO CHURCH ORDER.

Believing the Presbyterian Form of Government to be that instituted by the inspired Apostles of the Lord, in the early church, and sanctioned, if not commanded, in the scattered notices contained in the New Testament, on the general subject; our hearts cling to it as to that order approved by revelation of God, and made manifest by long experience, as the best method of preserving and spreading his truth. When that truth is in danger we hold but the more steadfastly to our distinctive church order, as affording the best method of detecting and vanquishing error. That any form of administration should totally prevent evil, is manifestly impossible while men continue as they are; and it is not small praise to the institutions of our church, that they so nearly reach this result, as to be incapable of regular action, in the hands of those who are themselves corrupt. They live with and for the truth; to spread error, they must be perverted; and before a general apostasy, Presbyterian order must always perish.

Thus it has been in these evil times. Abundant proof is before this Convention, and indeed before the whole world, that the principles of our system have been universally departed from, by those who have departed from our faith; and that generally that has been done with equal steps. Or if, as there is reason to fear, some portions of the church, still hold the external form of Presbyterianism, and deny the power of its sacred doctrines, they are those only, who, in attaching themselves to us, have either evaded subscription to our creed–or subscribed without believing it. It is enough that any system should exclude honest errorists–and speedily detect, if it cannot exclude those who are otherwise.

Among the departures from sound Presbyterian order, against which we feel called on to testify, as marking the times, are the following:

1. The formation of Presbyteries without defined and reasonable limits, or Presbyteries, covering the same territory, and especially such a formation founded on doctrinal repulsions or affinities : thus introducing schism into the very vitals of the body.

2. The refusal of Presbyteries when requested by any of their members, to examine all applicants for admission into them, as to their soundness in the faith, or touching any other matter connected with a fair Presbyterial standing : thus concealing and conniving at error, in the very strong hold of truth.

3. The licensing of persons to preach the Gospel, and the ordaining to the office of the ministry such as not only accept of our standards merely for substance of doctrine, and others who are unfit and ought to be excluded for want of qualification–but of many even who openly deny fundamental principles of truth, and preach and publish radical errors, as already set forth.

4. The formation of a great multitude and variety of creeds which are often incomplete, false, and contradictory of each other, and of our Confession of Faith and the Bible; but which even if true are needless, seeing that the public and authorised standards of the Church are full sufficient for the purposes for which such formularies were introduced, namely, as public testimonies of our faith and practice, as aids to the teaching of the people truth and righteousness, and as instruments for ascertaining and preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace; it being understood that we do not object to the use of a brief abstract of the doctrines of our Confession of Faith, in the public reception of private members of the Church.

5. The needless ordination of a multitude of men to the office of Evangelist, and the consequent tendency to a general neglect of the pastoral office; frequent and hurtful changes of pastoral relations; to the multiplication of spurious excitements, and the consequent spread of heresy and fanaticism, thus weakening and bringing into contempt the ordinary and stated agents and means, for the conversion of sinners, and the edification of the body of Christ.

6. The disuse of the office of Ruling Elder in portions of the Church, and the consequent growth of practices and principles entirely foreign to our system; thus depriving the pastors of needful assistants in discipline, the people of proper guides in Christ, and the churches of suitable representatives in the ecclesiastical tribunals.

7. The electing and ordaining Ruling Elders, with the express understanding that they are to serve but for a limited time.

8. A progressive change in the system of Presbyterian representation in the General Assembly, which has been persisted in by those holding the ordinary majorities, and carried out into detail by those disposed to take undue advantage of existing opportunities, until the actual representation seldom exhibits the true state of the Church, and many questions of the deepest interest have been decided contrary to the fairly ascertained wishes of the majority of the Church and people in our communion : thus virtually subverting the essential principles of freedom, justice, and equality, on which our whole system rests.

9. The unlimited and irresponsible power, assumed by several associations of men under various names, to exercise authority and influence, direct and indirect, over Presbyters, as to their field of labour, place of residence, and mode of action in the difficult circumstances of our Church : thus actually throwing the controls of affairs in large portions of the Church, and sometimes in the General Assembly itself, out of the hands of the Presbyteries into those of single individuals or small committees located at a distance.

10. The unconstitutional decisions and violent proceedings of several General Assemblies, and especially those of 1831, 2, 3, 4, and 6, directly or indirectly subverting some of the fundamental principles of Presbyterian government–effectually discountenancing discipline, if not rendering it impossible, and plainly conniving at and favouring, if not virtually affirming as true, the whole current of false doctrine which has been for years setting into our Church, thus making the Church itself a principled actor in its own dissolution and ruin.

Circular Epistle of the General Assembly (1837)

In Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on 25/03/2010 at 18:58

As promised, here is the (rather lengthy) whole of the 1837 Circular Epistle of the General Assembly (Old School).  I will plan to leave this post up for a week, and then remove it to the Historic Documents section of the PCA Historical Center web site.  This material appeared originally in the Appendix of Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, 1837, pp. 20-26.

CIRCULAR EPISTLE OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, to all the Churches of Jesus Christ, with grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, through the Eternal Spirit.

VERY DEAR BRETHREN:

Assembled by the good providence of God, as the supreme judicatory of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, constituting by our ecclesiastical organization not only the “bond of union, peace, correspondence and mutual confidence among all our churches,” but also the only organ of “correspondence with foreign churches,” we cannot consent to separate after the unusually long, interesting, and important session, which we are about to close, without pouring out the fulness of our hearts, in reference to the weighty matters concerning which we have been called to act since we came together, into the ears and bosoms of all other Christian Churches, and especially those with which we are in friendly correspondence. Read the rest of this entry »

Circular Epistle of the General Assembly (1837) – Selected Quote

In Old School/New School Division, Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on 23/03/2010 at 21:37

With apologies for having been away too long, I would like to share some quotes gleaned from recent reading of primary source materials covering the 1837 Old School/New School division of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA).  The research interests of one current patron, and the purchase of a small work by William Morrison Engles [1797-1867] have provoked some of this reading.  The 1837 split of the PCUSA is formative in many ways for the remainder of American Presbyterian history, even up to the present day.  Thus the importance of a careful study of that period.  In assisting our patron with his research, I was pleased to find that we also have in the PCA Historical Center an original copy of another, rather rare resource, titled Circular Epistle of the General Assembly.  This would have been one of the documents issued by the Old School wing of the division, published immediately subsequent to the 1837 split.  Here is an excerpt from that letter, with intention of reproducing the entire document at some later date.  It provides a good feel for the tenor of those times:

“As the great truths of the Gospel lie at the foundation of all Christian hope, as well as of the purity and prosperity of the Church, we felt ourselves bound to direct early and peculiarly solemn attention to those doctrinal errors, which there was but too much evidence had gained an alarming prevalence in some of our judicatories.  The advocates of these errors, on their first appearance, were cautious and reserved, alleging that they differed in words only from the doctrines as stated in our public standards.  Very soon, however, they began to contend that their opinions were really new, and were a substantial and important improvement on the old creed of the Church; and, at length, that revivals of religion could not be hoped for, and that the souls of men must be destroyed, if the old doctrines continued to be preached.  The errors thus promulgated were by no means of that doubtful or unimportant character which seems to be assigned to them even by some of the professed friends of orthodoxy.  You will see, by our published acts, that some of them affect the very foundation of the system of Gospel truth, and that they all bear relations to the Gospel plan, of very serious and ominous import.  Surely doctrines which go to the formal or virtual denial of our covenant relation to Adam; the native and total depravity of man; the entire inability of the sinner to recover himself from rebellion and corruption; the nature and source of regeneration; and our justification solely on account of the imputed righteousness of the Redeemer–cannot, upon any just principle, be regarded as “minor errors!”  They form, in fact, “another Gospel;” and it is impossible for those who faithfully adhere to our public standards, to walk with those who adopt such opinions with either comfort or confidence.

“It cannot be denied, indeed, that those who adopted and preached these opinions, at the same time, declared their readiness to subscribe our Confession of Faith, and actually professed their assent to it, in the usual form, without apparent scruple.  This, in fact, was one of the most revolting and alarming characteristics of their position.  They declared, that, in doing this, they only adopted the Confession “for substance,” and by no means intended to receive the whole system which it contained.  Upon this principle, we had good evidence that a number of Presbyteries, in the ordination and reception of ministers, and other church officers, avowedly and habitually acted.  And hence, it has not been uncommon for the members of such Presbyteries publicly and formally to repudiate some of the important doctrines of the formulary which they had thus subscribed; and even, in a few extraordinary cases, to hold up the system of truth which it contains, as “an abomination;” as a system which it were to be “wished had never had an existence.”  No wonder that men feeling and acting thus, should have been found, in some instances, substituting entirely different Confessions of Faith in place of that which is contained in our Constitution.  Who can doubt that such a method of subscribing to articles of Faith is immoral in principle; that it is adapted to defeat the great purpose of adopting Confessions, and that, if persisted in, it could not fail to open the door of our Church wider and wider to the introduction of the most radical and pestiferous heresies, which would speedily destroy her character as an evangelical body.

“Was it possible for us to doubt or hesitate as to our duty, when such errors were evidently gaining ground among us, and when it was in our power judicially to condemn them?  Errors which, ever since the days of the apostles, have been pronounced by the true Church to be dangerous corruptions of Gospel truth.  We are conscious that in pronouncing the errors in question to be unscriptural, radical, and highly dangerous, we are actuated by no feelings of narrow party zeal, but by a firm and growing persuasion that such errors cannot fail, in their ultimate effect, to subvert the foundation of Christian hope, and destroy the souls of men.  As watchmen on the walls of Zion, we should be unfaithful to the trust reposed in us, were we not to cry aloud, and proclaim a solemn warning against opinions so corrupt and delusive.”