Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of Publica.

A collection of the acts, deliverances and testimonies of the supreme judicatory of the Presbyterian Church from its origin in America to the present time microform : with notes and documents explainatory and historiacl: constituting a online

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'yJM PRINCETON, N. J. ^^jj



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BY THE v''' '





Entered, according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1855, by

A. W. Mitchell, M. D.

In the Office of the Clerk of the District Court for the Eastern District of


Ix the following pages the larger type, constituting the body oi
the work, presents the citations, in the words of the text, from the
records of the General Synods and Assembly. Of dates prior to
1789 the citations are from the second edition of the " Records of
the Presbyterian Church," the paging of which diifers from that of
the first edition by the addition of 2, down to the 269th page, after
which they coincide. Between 1789 and 1820, inclusive, the cita-
tions are from the volume of the Minutes issued by the Board. Sub-
sequent to 1820 the annual Minutes are the authorities. Where any
importance attaches to the discrimination, during the coexistence
of the two General Synods, the formula, ^^ 3Iinutes, P.," indicates
the acts of the Synod of Philadelphia, and ^'' 31{nutes, iV. Y.," those
of the Synod of New York.

All other matter than the citations from the Records, is printed
in small type. Of this, paragraphs from the pen of the compiler
are included in brackets — [ ]. Of the matter thus distinguished,
it may be proper to say, that as it does not have, so neither does it
claim, any further authority than may be found to belong to the
facts and arguments adduced.

S. J. B.


Prior to 1821, no more than brief extracts of the annual Min-
utes of the General Assembly were published. In 1814 an overture
was presented by the Rev. Thomas D. Baird for the printing of the
entire Minutes, from the beginning, inasmuch as the Extracts were
not only deficient in completeness, but entire files of them were not
to be had. The proposition was opposed on the ground of its
involving the Assembly in an expense for which there was no pros-
pect of remuneration. It however being ascertained that a pub-
lishing house in Philadelphia was ready to give one thousand dollars
for the copy-right, it was determined to secure the whole profits to
the General Assembly, and the following resolution was adopted,

"Whereas, Ministers of the gospel, and lay members of our judi-
catories, do need, and it is known that many of these as well as
others desire to possess, the printed extracts of the General Assem-
bly of our Church from the year 1789, it was therefore

'"'■ Resolvedy That the Assembly order a number of copies to be
printed, and that the profits arising from the sale be added to the
funds of the Assembly." — Minutes, 1814, p. 561.

Proposals were accordingly issued. But the business of all, re-
ceived adequate attention from none, and the effort failed. In 1818
the subject was revived in a different form.

"The following overture was submitted to the Assembly, and
being amended, was adopted, viz.

'"'' Mesolved, That Drs. Janeway, Neill, and Ely, be appointed a
committee, and they are hereby appointed, to extract from the
records of the General Assembly, and of the late Synod of New
York and Philadelphia, all such matters as may appear to be of per-
manent authority and interest, (including a short account of the
manner in which missions have been conducted, and their success,)
that the same may be published for the information of Ministers and
people in our Churches, and that they report the same to the next
Assembly." — dlinutes, 1818, p. 673.

This committee reported to the Assembly next year a work in
regard to which the following resolution was adopted.

''^Resolved, That the work reported by this committee be com-
pleted on the plan reported, and that when thus finished, the com-
mittee be authorized to have four thousand copies printed, and
offered for sale at a reasonable price.


^^ Resolved, That tlic Trustees of the General Assembly be
requested to defray the expense of printing the above work, and to
secure the copy-right of it ; and that the Presbyteries be requested
to promote the sale of the same." — Minutes, 1819, p. 713.

The Digest was accordingly published, and the General Assembly
in 1820, (p. 727) "recommended to all the Bishops, Elders, and
Deacons in the Presbyterian Church in the United States, and to
heads of families, to procure it for themselves."

This edition being in time exhausted, the subject of a new selec-
tion came up to the Assembly in 1836 in the form of an overture,
and the following report was adopted, to wit:

" That as the want of a new Digest has been felt and expressed
by many brethren; as the Minutes of the Assembly have now
become too voluminous, to be conveniently carried to the places of
meeting of the several judicatories ; as it is impossible now to sup-
ply our Ministers and Elders with entire sets of the Minutes ; and
as arrangements may be made for the publication of a new Digest,
without any expense to the Assembly, they therefore recommend to
the Assembly the following resolutions for adoption, viz.

"1. Resolved, That in the judgment of this Assembly it is expe-
dient that a new Digest of the acts and proceedings of the highest
judicatory of our Church, be prepared and placed within the reach
of all our Ministers and Elders.

"2. Resolved, That Dr. John McDowell, Mr. Winchester, and
Mr. DufSeld, be a committee to prepare such a Digest, and report
the same to the Assembly, as soon as practicable, provided the ex-
pense of its publication be not defrayed out of the funds of the K^-
Bemh\yr— Minutes, 1836, p. 262.

From this appointment nothing resulted, and the subject coming
up again in 1841, was referred to the Board of Publication by the
following order.

" Th^ Board of Publication is hereby directed to take into con-
sideration the propriety of publishing a' new edition of the Assem-
bly's Digest; having first caused a thorough re-examination of the
Minutes of all the years embraced in the present Digest, and also
a full examination of all those published since; so that the balance
may contain, in a small space, and a cheap form, all the important
acts of the Assembly now in force : to which may be added such
statistical and other information, in regard to our Church, as may
be judged important." — Minutes, 1841, p. 447.

The successive measures having failed to secure the contemplated
publication, the Assembly in 1843

'■''Resolved, That it be recommended to the Board of Publication,
if funds can be provided for the purpose, to print an edition of all
the Minutes of the General Assembly from the origin of the body,
including a summary of the sta4;istical tables, to which shall be
appended a copious Index, which shall serve as a Digest of the
Assembly."— il/inwYes, 1843, p. 197.

The volume of Minutes from 1789 to 1820, published in partial
response to this resolution, however valuable, did not supply the


desideratum of the Assembly; and in 1848 a renewed effort ■was
made to secure that object.

^^ Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to prepare a
Digest of the Acts and Proceedings of the General Assembly, since
1820, accompanied by a full and copious index ; and that they make
an arrangement with tine Board of Publication to publish such an
edition as they may think proper, including in the same volume the
present Digest."

"The Moderator announced as the committee of five, to prepare
a Digest — Rev. Daniel V. McLean, Rev. Giles Manwaring, Rev.
John McDowell, D. D., Rev. William M. Engles, D. D., Rev. Wil-
lis Lord, D. 'Dr—Mimites, 1848, pp. 45, 53.

This committee reported to the next Assembly "that they had
not been able to perform the duty, and asked that the business be
transferred to the Board of Publication. The request was granted
and the committee discharged." — Minutes, 1849, p. 246.-

Under this appointment the Board issued the new Digest in

It appearing that the exigencies of the Church demanded a more
full and complete collection, the Author of the present compilation
has ventured to attempt answering this demand. Experiment soon
demonstrated that there was no alternative between a brief abstract,
arbitrarily selected, and consequently unsatisfactory in its exhibi-
tions, and an exhaustive collection. In preferring the latter, he was
not only confirmed by the opinions of brethren with whom he had
opportunity to consult, but by the action of the Assembly in 1843,
recited above, in which was contemplated the republication of the
entire Minutes, furnished with an apparatus of indices, &c. to serve
as a Digest.

My aim under the direction of the acts of the Assembly on the
subject, has been to produce a work which may constitute a complete
Thesaurus, comprehending whatever might be requisite to enable
the common reader, and the church member to know what our
Church has been and has done; no less than to place within the
reach of Church officers a full exhibition of all that she has, either
by precedent or act decided, upon the principles of her faith and
order, and the rules of her discipline. Subordinate to this design
it has been a constant study to condense the whole to the smallest
possible dimensions.

In addition to the extracts from the Assembly's Records, there
are given other documents, and notes historical and explanatory,
serving to bring out and illustrate the proceedings of the Assembly,
and the attitude of the Church, in the premises severally.

In arranging the materials composing the work, reference has
been had primarily to logical order. As far as consistent with due
subordination to this, regard is had to the chronological sequence
of the transactions. The statistical tables have been carefully pre-
pared, and will be found both interesting and valuable, although the
defective character of the materials precludes more than an approxi-
mation to accuracy.


It is a pleasure thus publicly to acknowledge my obligations to
the Rev. Professors Howe and Palmer, of Columbia Seminary, and
Breckinridge and Humphrey of Danville, and to the Rev. S. B.
McPheeters, and my brother, the Rev. E. Thomson Baird, of St.
Louis, for valuable suggestions, and important information and doc-
uments. The Rev. Dr. J. J. Janeway will also accept of this
acknowledgment for important information communicated with
kindness and promptitude for a different purpose, but happily avail-
able in the present work.

That defects will not be discovered in this volume I cannot hope.
Should such present themselves they may claim indulgence from the
considerate critic. He is assured that they have not resulted through
negligence, or for want of untiring labour and anxiety to attain
accuracy and completeness. Begun as was this compilation, amidst
the prostration and debility induced by a long continued exposure
to a pestilent malaria — carried on for some time by a daily alterna-
tion of the writing table and the sick couch, and at length completed
amid the labours, the anxieties and cares of a newly formed and
arduous pastoral relation, by robbing nature of her wonted rest,
until the overwrought system loathed the needed repose; — failing in
every attempt, either by importation or otherwise, to obtain the use
of any such works as might have served to suggest a plan, and com-
pelled to work without model or precedent;* — straitened in all my
investigations, with slight exceptions, to the limited resources
which a missionary life has permitted me to accumulate in my own
library; to collect, digest, systematize, and illustrate the accumu-
lated deliverances of a century and a half, on every variety of sub-
jects, has cost me an amount of anxiety, weariness and toil, which
can only be appreciated by experiment, and which, if anticipated,
would hardly have been encountered. But through the kindness of
a prospering Providence my work is done; and if I have succeeded
in signalizing to any additional degree, in illustrating with greater
clearness, or disseminating to any wider extent, those principles of
order and of faith, which have characterized our Church since she
was first planted in this goodly land, and which have made her
what she is, a rock immovable in her principles amid surrounding
change, a river pouring a widening and deepening tide of saving
influences for the healing of our own and other lands, my object
will have been attained, and in it I shall be richly repaid for all the
labour expended.

The Manse, ")

Muscatine, Iowa, Oct. 19, 1854. J

* Too late for any valuable U8e to the prepent purpose, I have succeeded in obtaining from Edinbui'gh,
through the asuiJuity of Mr. William S. Keutoul of Pittsburgh, a copy of " A Compendium of the Laws
of the Church of Scotland."





Documentary History.

CHAPTER I.— Constitution of the Church
prior to the Adopting Act, - page 1
'J 1. The General Presbytery had no writ-
ten constitution, vi 2. The organization was
Presbyterian. § 3. Relation to the Church
of Scotland. § 4. First proposal to adopt a
constitution. § 5. Protest and statement
of principles on the subject.

CHAPTER U.— Adoption of the Westmin-
ster Standards, - - - - p. 4
% 6. The subject laid over a year. % 7.
Act preliminary to the Adopting Act. § 8.
The Adopting Act. § 9. Excepted passages
of the Westminster Confession. § 10. The
Directory recommended. §11. Theacten-
forced on intrants. § 12. Inscribed in Pres-
bytery books. § 13. Explanation of the Act.
§ 14. Recent misrepresentations of it. § 15.
Position of the New Brunswick Party. § 16.
Position of the Synod of New York.

CHAPTER III.— Revision of the Westmin-
ster Standards, - - . . p. 8

^ 17. Draught of the Book of Government
and Discipline, ij, IS. Confession amended.
§ 19. The original articles. § 20. The
draught as published for consideration. § 21.
The amended Book adopted. § 22. The
Creed an appendix to the Catechism. §§ 23,
24. Threatened secession of Suffolk Pres-
bytery. § 25. Completion of the work by
the General Assembly. §§ 26-28. Scrip-
ture proofs added. § 29. Subsequent re-



Enactments respecting the Constitu-

Title 1. — Adopting the Confession of
Faith, - - - - - p. 15
§ 30. Use of Creeds and Confessions.
§ 31. Adoption includes the Catechisms.
^ 32. Ministers hostile to Creeds.
Title 2. — Circulation of the Constitu-
tion, - - - p. 18
§ 33. Original regulations for printing.
§ 34. Referred to the Board of Publication.
§ 35. Unauthorized editions. § 36. Circu-
lation urged. § 37. Translation into Ger-

Title 3.—{<>\) 38-40.) Authority of the Mar-
ginal Notes, - - - - p. IS
Title 4. — Of Amendments, - - p. 21
§ 41. Sent down for a series of years.
§ 42. Amendments to the doctrinal part.
§ 43. Proposed change in the manner.
§ 44. The article respecting constitutional
rules. § 45. The Scotch " Barrier Act."
§ 46. Different-interpretations. § 47. The
article amended. §§ 48, 49. Amendments
allowed by the Presbyteries, and rejected
by the Assembly.



Title 1. — The Bicentenary of the West-
minster Assembly, - - - p. 26
§ 50. A committee appointed. § 51. Ul-
timate action of the Assembly.
Title 2. — Semi- Centenary of the Genera^
Assembly. - - - - p. 27

§ 52. Celebration by the Assembly. § 53.
1 Further action on the subject.




CHAPTER \.— Formation of new Congre-
gations, - - - • - p. 29
^ 1. Manner of organizing. ^2. Congre-
gations formed without officers. § 3. A
rule of Presbytery usually requisite. '§ 4.
Small Churches ought not to be divided.
§ 5. When the people do not request it.
^ 6, Where the majority oppose it. (a) An
organization may be granted. (6) Supplies
without an organization.
CHPATER II. — Qualifications of Mem'
bers, - - - - - p. 32

^ 7. Adoption of the Confession not re-
quired. % 8. Subjection to the discipline
of the Church requisite, §9. Persons who
refuse to dedicate their children in baptism.
'^ 10. Dealers in ardent spirits. % 11. Uni-
versalists. § 12. Sabbath mail stage pro-
prietors. % 13. Postmasters.

CHAPTER III. — Reception and Dismission
of Members, - - - - p. 33
% 14. Certificates required. ^ 15. Re-
ception on examination. % 16. Long absent
without dismission. ^ 17. Irregular dismis-
sion. §§ 18, 19. Dismission to another de-
nomination. % 20. Dismission indefinite.
^ 21. Of a suspended member, ^'ji 22, 23.
Of one who has been restored upon appeal.
$ 24. Testimonials to one who has been
under judicial charges. ^ 2.5. Members re-
leased to the world.

CHAPTER IV.— 0/ Charters and Trus-
tees, - - - - - p. 37
§ 26. Trustees should not usurp the Dea-
con's office. ^ 27. Charters should not
violate the Constitution.

PART 11.
Church Officers.
CHAPTER I.— 0/ Deacons, - p. 38

"^ 27. Their appointment enjoined. ^ 28.
Their functions. § 29. The Scotch account
of them, (s 30. The same person both Dea-
con and Elder.

CHAPTER II.— i?«Zi/ig-£Zders, - p. 39
iji 31. In olden time. ^ 32. Essential to
Presbytenanisin. v 33. Election by the
people necessary. § 34. The Session may
nominate. § 35. The customary mode of
eloclion may be changed by the Church.
'J 36. None but members may vote. ^ 37.
The Church may complain to Presbytery if
the Session abuse its authority. § 38. An
Elder can serve but one Church. § 39. May
not be chosen for a term of years, § 40.
Restoration to communion does not rein-
stale in the eldership. ^^41. Elders with-
out parochial charge cannot sit in any I

court. ^ 42. Installation upon re-election.
^ 43. Elders who cannot submit to the de-
cisions of the higher courts, 'j. 44. Resig-
nation, ^'i 45-51. The quorum and ordina-
tion questions.

CHAPTER III.— O/'^/ieMJnis^ri/, - p. 53
Title 1. — Of Candidates.

'^ 52. To be sought for. § 53. Piety
essential. ^'^ 54, 55. Thorough scholar-
ship. ^ 66. This waved in special cases,
SS 57. To whom amenable. <^ 58. To what
Presbytery belong. § 59. Supervision of
Presbytery. § 60. Translation, pending
trials. ^ 61. With whom study? Vi 62.
Only theological students are candidates,
'i>§ 63-66, Three years' theological course.
Title 2. — Of Licentiates, - - p. 60

§ 67. Probation necessiry before ordina-
tion. § 68. Precipitation condemned. S'' 69.
Going abroad for licensure. § 70. Irregu-
lar licensure and ordination. § 71. Licen-
tiates to attend Church courts, (i 72. Licen-
sure by a self erected committee. '& 73.
Subjects of Exegesis.

Title 3.-0/ Pastors, - - p. 61

^ 74. Election by the people of old.
§^ 75, 76. Mode of election. 'J 77. Dues
to former Pastor. ^ 7S. Pastor and Church
must belong to the same Presbytery. ^ 79.
Pastor by prescription. § 80. Installation
annulled on appeal. S^ 81. Pastoral duties.
§82. Translation. §83. Dissolution of the
Title 4. — Of Stated supplies, - p. 65

§ 84. The system condemned.
Title 5. — Of Chaplains, - - p. 65
§ 85. Chaplains in the army. § 86. Naval
Chaplains. § 87. Chaplaincy and pastor-
ate incompatible.

Title 6. — Of Evangelists, - - p. 66
§ 88. Ordination of Evangelists approved.
Title 7. — Of Ministers without charge,

p, 66
§ 89. Such disowned by the General Sy-
nod. § 90. Views of the General Assembly.
§ 91. Non-resident Ministers, § 92. A full
minute on neglect of the ministry.
Title 8. — Miscellaneous decisions respecting
the ministry, . - - - p, 69
§ 93. Are they members of particular
Churches? § 94. May they hold civil
offices 1 § 95. Caution about travelling
Ministers. S^ 96. Removal without leave.
§ 97. Prohibited officiating at a given place.
Title 9. — Demission of the Ministry, p, 70
§ 98. Disallowed. § 99. (Of old.) For
mental incompetence. § 100, For bodily
infirmity, § 101. Scotch doctrine on the

Title 10, — Names of Honour, - p, 72
§ 102. Bishop, v> 103. Doctor of Divinity.





Introductory Title.— (§§ 1, 2.) Distribu-
tion of Ecclesiastical functions, - p. 13


Ordinances pertaining to the Po-

testas Ordinis.
CHAVTERI.— Of Preaching, - p. 74
^3. Lay preaching. '^ 4. Reading Ser-
mons, ^'ji 5,6. Expository preaching.

CHAPTER Il.—The Sacraments, - p. 75

Title 1. — Of the Aaministration.

§ 7. Where there is no Church, ^ 8
Without leave of Pastor and Session. § 9
Antipa;dobaptist may commune occasion
ally. § 10. Baptism by an impostor. 'J 11
By a suspended Minister. ^ 12. By a de
posed Minister. § 13. Profane administra
tion. 'ji 14. Unitarian baptism. ^ 15
Romish baptism. §'js 17, IS. The Church
of Scotland on Romish baptism.

Title 2.— The Parents, - • p. SO
§ 19. Their qualifications. § 20. Their

Title 3. — Subjects of Baptism, - p. 81
§ 21. Period of infancy. § 22. Orphans
in charge of our Missions. S> 23. Appren-
tices to Christian masters. § 24. Children
of pious slaves. § 25. Infant slaves of
pious masters.

Title 4. — Of the mode of Baptism, - p. S3
§ 26. Baptism by immersion.

CHAPTER III.— (§ 27.) The Benediction,

p. 83
CHAPTER IV.— Attendance on the Ordi-
nances, - - - - - p. S3
S> 28. Neglect censurable. § 29. On dis-
orderly administrations.


Ordinances Pertaining to the Po-
testas Jurisdictionis.

CHAPTER I.— Of Ordination, - p. 84
S» 30. By Committee. § 31. Trials in
olden time, 'ji 32. Elders may not impose
hands in ordaining Ministers. ^\J 33, 34.
Ordination of persons in transitu. vS 35.
Ordination sine titulo. § 36. Ordinations
on the Sabbath. § 37. Irregular not neces-
sarily invalid. § 38. Lay ordination. § 39.
Procured by fraud. § 40. Methodist ordi-
nation. § 41. By other Churches. § 42.
The Eldership may impose hands on Elders
and Deacons.

CHAPTER IL— 0/ Legislation, - p. 90
<5« 43. E.xtent of legislative powers, (b)
Authority of enactments. § 44. Right of
dissent and protest.

CHAPTER III.— 0/ DJscJpZme, - p. 91
§ 45. An example from the olden time.

Title 1. — Jurisdiction over territory, p. 92
^ 46. A Church outside the Presbytery.
§ 47. Territory of a dissolved Presbytery.
^ 48. A Presbytery by the Assembly attach-
ed inadvertently to a distant Synod.

Title 2. — Jurisdiction over persons, p. 94
§ 49. Member of a defunct Presbytery.
§ 50. The only Elders are accused. ^ 51.
Accused and Elder related. § 52. Failing
an attempt to join another body. § 53.
Non-resident Ministers. § 54. Declinature
does not bar. 'J 65. Dr. Clapp's case.
§ 56. Jurisdiction over a deposed Minister.

Title 3. — Other questions of Jurisdic-
tion, - - - - - p. 97
§ 67. Appeal from another denomination.

§ 58. Discipline of other denominations to

be respected. '5i§ 69-63. Discipline of

baptized children.

Title 4. — Judicial examinations, p. 100
§ 64. Of Ministers on joining Presbytery.
§ 65. Of Ministers suspected of error.

Title 5. — (§66.) Quorumofa Court, p. 100
Title 6. — Censures without process, p. 101
^ 67. Charges not Judicial. § 68. Charges
angrily urged and abandoned. § 69. Cen-
sure without trial.

Title 7. — Of original process, - p. 103
§ 70. Constitution of the Court, (a) The
Moderator. (6) (c) Counsel. §71 Charges
specific. §72. Theadmonition of the Court.
§ 73. Absence of accused. § 74. Prejudi-
cial publications. § 75. Suspension pend-
ing process. § 76. Regard to the rules.
§ 77. Effect of informality. § 78. Of evi-
dence, (a) Manner of taking testimony.
(6) Lawfulness of the oath, (c) Husband
and Wife witnesses, (d) A Minister cited
to testify before a Session, (e) A member
of the Court, cited on the spot.

Title 8.— The Decision, - - p. 106
§ 79. Must be definite. § 80. Correction
of the decision. § 81. Respondent may
claim a copy. § 82. Censures to be propor-
tionate. § 83. Suspension for a specified
time. § 84. A suspended person may not
exhort. §85. Name to continue on the roll.