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country, and in 1774 the first presbytery of this church in America was constituted. A few years later the members of this presbytery, joining with a number of seceders, as they were called, also a Scottish Presbyterian division, organized the Associate Reformed Church. A division in this body resulted in the formation of the Reformed Dissenting Presbytery, and the original Presbytery being resuscitated, there were before the close of the century three branches of Reformed Presbyterians.
The question of the relation of the Christian Church to civil government has ever been a prominent one among Reformed Presbyterians. All accept the Westminster Confession of Faith and form of church government, and all occupy an attitude of protest against civil governments which do not recognize the headship of Christ and the authority of God and his law. They differ, however, among themselves as to the extent to which this protest should be carried. Some refuse, because the Constitution of the United States does not acknowledge the existence of Almighty God, the supremacy of Christ, and the authority of the Scripture, to “incorporate with the political body,” and hence do not participate in elections and in certain other political rights and duties. Others continue to protest against “a godless government,” but do not refrain from voting. The Reformed Presbyterians deem the influence of secret societies pernicious, and forbid communicants all connection with them. They do not use modern hymns, but sing psalms only. They were always opposed to slavery. In 1800, when attention was called to the fact that some of the members owned slaves, the presbytery enacted, without a dissenting voice, that “no slaveholder should be allowed the communion of the church."
9.—THE SYNOD OF THE REFORMED PRESBYTERIAN
In 1809 a synod was organized. A motion brought before this body in 1825 to open fraternal correspondence with the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church being defeated, a number of ministers subsequently withdrew and joined the latter body. In 1833 a division occurred, resulting in two organizations, both of which retained the same subordinate standards unchanged, but differed in the application of them. The one, allowing its members to vote and hold office under the government, is known as the Reformed Presbyterian Church (New Light) or General Synod; the other, still adhering to the old practice, as the Reformed Presbyterian Church (Old Light) or Synod.
The synod's "terms of ecclesiastical communion" embrace an acknowledgment of the Scriptures as the word of God and only rule of faith and manners; of the whole doctrine of the Westminster Confession and catechisms as founded upon the Scriptures; of the divine right of one unalterable form of church government as set forth by the Westminster Assembly; of the obligation upon the church of the covenant entered into in 1871, in which are embodied the engagement of the national covenant and of the solemn league and covenant, so far as applicable in this land. The covenant of 1871 declares that those accepting it are pledged to labor for “a constitutional recognition of God as the source of all power, of Jesus Christ as the ruler of nations, of the Holy Scriptures as the supreme rule, and of the true Christian religion,” and to refuse to “incorpo
rate by any act with the political body until this blessed reformation is secured." The members of this branch, therefore, do not take part in state or national elections. They neither vote nor hold office.
The synod embraces II presbyteries, with 115 organizations and edifices, 10,574 communicants, and church property valued at $1,071,400. The average value of its edifices is $9317, and the average seating capacity 323. Though it is represented in nineteen States, more than half of its communicants are in Pennsylvania and New York. Three halls, with a seating capacity of 600, are occupied.
3 5 3 9 9 I 1
I 2 5 3 9 7 I
850 2,760 1,750 300
550 1,000 350
4,500 16,000 11,000 21,900 15,000
4,000 15,000 100,000
6,000 2,800 10,000
55,600 324,500 17,900
246 984 758
19 65 400 197 145 100
3,272 222 20 62
10.—THE GENERAL SYNOD OF THE REFORMED
This is the other body resulting from the division of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1833. They used to be popularly distinguished as “New Lights.
The general synod holds equally with the synod to the Westminster standards, to the headship of Christ over nations, to the doctrine of “public social covenanting,” to the exclusive use of the psalms in singing, to restricted communion in the use of the sacraments, and to the principle of “dissent from all immoral civil institutions,” but allows its members to decide for themselves whether the government of this country should be regarded as an immoral institution, and thus determine what duties of citizenship devolve upon them. They may therefore exercise the franchise and hold office, provided they do not in these civil acts violate the principle that forbids connection with immoral institutions. Many of them do participate in elections. Negotiations for the union of the general synod and the synod failed in 1890, because the latter would not agree to a basis which interpreted the phrase "incorporate with the political body” as meaning “such incorporation as involves sinful cornpliance with the religious defects of the written constitution as it now stands, either in holding such offices as require an oath to support the constitution or in voting for men to administer such offices.”
The general synod embraces 5 presbyteries, with 33 organizations, the same number of edifices, valued at $469,000, and 4602 communicants. The average seating capacity of its edifices is 375, and their average value $14,212, which is an extremely high figure. One hall, with a seating capacity of 100, is occupied.