Chapter XXXV

The Disruption of 1838

Upon the dissolution of the Assembly of 1837, Dr. Beman announced that a meeting of the minority would be held in Mr. Barnes’ church, on the next afternoon, Friday, the 9th of June. At this meeting a series of resolutions, submitted by the Rev. E. Cheever, were adopted. These resolutions denied that there were more doctrinal errors prevalent than heretofore, or greater irregularities in the disowned Synods than in other parts of the Church. They declared the reasons insufficient to justify the measures of the Assembly; and pronounced the abrogation of the Plan of Union, the cutting off of the four Synods and dissolution of the elective affinity Presbytery null and void. They admitted that the alienation of parties in the Church was such as to render a division probably unavoidable; yet recommended all the New School Presbyteries to be fully represented in the next Assembly, that they it claim seats for the commissioners from those Presbyteries which have been unconstitutionally exscinded; and that, in case their seats shall be denied them, said commissioners take immediate measures for a separate and constitutional organization of the General Assembly, as constituting the only true General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, in the United States of America.”

One danger threatened this policy. For several years, the Churches of Western New York and the Western Reserve had displayed a strong disposition to withdraw from the Church and organize themselves as Congregationalists. It had required, heretofore, the utmost exertion of the influence and tact of the party to prevent a step so disastrous to their cause. To obviate such a course, at this critical moment, the meeting “earnestly requested” the churches in question, “to adhere to and maintain their present organizations, and firmly to resist any and every attempt which may be made by circular letters or otherwise, to change their present ecclesiastical relations.” The allusion, here, was to circulars, just before, issued by certain Congregational bodies, which had been organized, recently, in Western New York.

The chief speakers, at this meeting were appropriately selected. They were Drs. Beman and Peters, and the Rev. Mr.Cleaveland. It was fitting, that Mr. Cleaveland, whose connection with the Church was a matter of mere temporary convenience, Dr. Beman, who had never taken the oath of allegiance of a Presbyterian minister, and whose writings were in open antagonism to the standards of the Church; and Dr. Peters, whose life had been publicly devoted to the destruction of our Boards, who denied the right of the Assembly to organize any permanent agency, whatever, and had labored, so long and so zealously, to cripple and destroy the Board of Missions, should be the men to originate and direct this scheme, which proposed to seize possession of the Church which had so long borne with them, and assume charge of the institutions and funds which bad been organized and accumulated, in spite of their opposition. The characteristic features of the New School, from its origin, had been dislike to the strictness of the theology of the Confession, and to the system of government therein set forth; and consequent coldness or hostility to the seminaries and Boards of the Church, and preference for the voluntary societies and seminaries. The latter, therefore, were the recipients of their gifts; while the institutions of the Church were endowed and nourished by others. The New School, therefore, had no rightful ground for any pretence to property in those institutions. In the conferences of the joint committee on amicable separation, this was so clearly, recognized, that the only claim which the New School members of that committee made upon the property of the Church was, to one-half of some twenty thousand dollars of permanent funds, not belonging to the seminaries. They were, also, ready to leave the chartered name of the Church to the Old School, and not anxious to retain the succession, provided the Old School would allow it to be destroyed, and not claim it to themselves.

Yet these were the men, who, having deliberately and of purpose placed their own seminaries and institutions beyond the reach of the Church in any event, now form their plans and announce their purpose to seize to themselves alone, her name and succession, her funds and seminaries, her Boards and all her institutions. To this end, were all their measures subsequently directed; at first in ecclesiastical conventions and the courts of the Church, and then, in the civil tribunals of the country.

The Philadelphia minority meeting was immediately followed by one in New York, which endorsed the resolutions passed by the former. Shortly after, a call appeared for a convention, at Auburn, New York, on the 17th of August, to deliberate on the proper measures to be taken “touching our grievances, and our duty, in, relation to them.”

At the time indicated, the Auburn convention met, and was organized by appointing the Rev. Dr. James Richards, President, with four Vice Presidents, and two Secretaries. About one hundred and eleven ministers, and sixty “laymen” were in attendance, representing some thirty-one Presbyteries and thirteen minorities. Most of these were from the disowned Synods. No regular report of the discussions was published. They continued until Monday the 21st, when the convention finally adjourned.

Whilst the larger proportion of the members were from the disowned Synods, the business of the convention was managed, mainly by others, whose great labor it was to induce the disowned Synods to claim seats in the next Assembly. A decided disposition prevailed among the latter to abandon the attempt to revolutionize the Church, and to enter into their own proper Congregational affiliations—a disposition to which appeal was shortly after made in one of the expected “Circulars,” from the General Association of the Congregational Ministers in New York.

With a view to this point, the principal resolutions of the convention were adopted. These declared that the disowning acts were unconstitutional, null and void; that the action of all judicatories “ought to be directed to the preservation of the union and integrity of the Presbyterian Church;” and that, “in accordance with these principles, it be recommended to the Synods declared to be exscinded, with their Presbyteries and churches, to retain their present organization and connection, without seeking any other; and that the Presbyteries send their commissioners to the next General Assembly, as usual.”

A great discovery was announced by this Convention, that the churches in Western New York did not come in on the Plan. of Union of 1801, but under the arrangement made with the Middle Association, in 1807 and 1808. It was, therefore, assumed that the abrogation of the Plan did not affect these churches. Unfortunately for this conclusion, the history shows, as we have seen, that the arrangement of 1808 was merely an application of the principles of the Plan on a large scale; and that the Plan was immediately adopted, by the bodies coming in under that arrangement, as their fundamental constitution; and so continued and was universally recognized, until the passage of the disowning acts, and the supposed discovery now proclaimed.

The convention adopted and published a series of reports, (1) upon the disowning acts; (2) a circular letter, on the same subject; (3) a Declaration of the Rights of Presbyterians; (4) a report on Doctrine, in which the doctrinal statement of the minority of the late Assembly was embodied; and (5) a statement of facts relative to the origin and character of the churches of the “exscinded ” Synods.

In the discussion on these subjects, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Penny stated, that there was a disposition to suppress the facts; that there was much more reason for the charge of doctrinal error and disorders, than many seemed willing to admit. Another member, whose disclosures threatened to be peculiarly damaging, was entreated to stop; but, refusing to do so, he was induced to yield to an adjournment, retaining the floor. When, however, the convention reassembled, he asked leave of absence, and desired to state his reasons for the request. The convention would not listen to the reasons; but granted the request; whereupon, the member took his seat among the spectators; and continued in attendance till the adjournment of the convention.

A similar convention of the Presbyterian and Congregational ministers and churches, who were connected with the Presbyterian Church under the Plan of Union, was held in the end of August at Ann Arbor, Michigan, with like objects and like results. While the Stated Clerk of the Synod of the Western Reserve was advising the Synod, through the editorial columns of the Ohio Observer, “to declare itself an independent body, changing its name perhaps for, ‘The Western Reserve General Consociation,’ and modifying its rules as circumstances shall seem to require,” the Presbyteries making like changes, the convention determined “to retain existing relations, for the present.”

In the mean time, the appeal of the New School to the civil tribunals was foreshadowed, by the procuring and publishing of “opinions” from various gentlemen of legal eminence, against the constitutionality of the measures of 1837. On the other hand, those measures were very ably vindicated in two articles in the Princeton Repertory, in a review of the Assembly’s proceedings, which appeared in the July number; and an article on the State of the Church, in the number for April, 1838. They were from the pen of Dr. Hodge.

As the time for the meeting of the Assembly of 1838 approached, arrangements were made, by common consent, for a conference of the commissioners who were prepared to sustain the action of 1837, in the Seventh Church, on the morning of Tuesday the 15th of May, two days before the opening of the Assembly. A “meeting” was also called, by Drs. McAuley, Richards, and others, to be held in the First Church, on the evening of Monday, the 14th.

The Old School Convention of 1838 was organized with the Rev. Dr Win. McPheeters, President, the Rev. Thomas D. Baird, Vice President, and the Rev. Messrs. Elias W. Crane, and Horace S. Pratt, Clerks.

On the evening of the first day’s sessions, the Convention was waited upon by a committee from the New School “Meeting of Commissioners.” They communicated a series of resolutions, which, assuming the unconstitutionality of the disowning acts, and making the recognition of the regular standing of those Synods a fundamental condition, proposed to the Convention “to open a friendly correspondence, for the purpose of ascertaining if some constitutional terms of pacification may not be agreed upon.”

The reply of the Convention was drafted by a committee consisting of Dr. Baxter, Prof. John Maclean, of Princeton, and Wm. Maxwell, Esq., of Va. It declared the idea of regarding the disowning acts as unconstitutional to be utterly inadmissible, and that the firm maintenance of those acts and the connected measures, presented the only prospect of securing the peace of the Church.

In the mean time, the New School meeting was engaged, with the assistance of legal counsel, in devising a plan by which to seize possession of the charter and the Church. Their scheme was ingenious. But it failed to take into account the cardinal fact, that, in the constitution and laws of the Church, express provision is made for the organization of the Assembly, designating precisely the officers by whom it is to be accomplished, and every step in the process.

Ignoring this fact, the plan devised went upon the assumption that the assembled commissioners were in the predicament of a popular meeting, dependent for its organization upon the tact of such leaders as should most promptly seize the reins, and elicit the votes of their party—or, at best, like an assembly of legislators, State, or National, whose only official assistant, in organizing, is a clerk, without legal authority, and liable to be superseded at any moment, by the will of the members.

This misconception of counsel, “learned in the law,” but ignorant of the constitution of the Church, introduced confusion and perplexity into the proceedings of their clients, and rendered that absurd, which was already impossible.

At the hour appointed for opening the Assembly, the seats near the pulpit of the place of meeting, the Seventh Church, located in Ranstead Court, were filled with the Old School members. They had been informed, the day before, by Dr. Nott, of Union College, of the plan of the New School, to attempt by a tumultuary movement to seize upon the organization of the Assembly; and, therefore, occupied the seats immediately in front, for the purpose of protecting and sustaining the moderator. The New School members came in together, from the meeting in the First Church. They assumed seats in the body of the house, next to those already filled by the Old School. Foremost among them was a group of eight persons, who sat in the middle aisle, nine or ten pews from the front. They were the master-spirits of the occasion, who had been designated to enact the leading parts in the drama of the disruption. First of these, in place and responsibility, Mr. Cleaveland, was most appropriately selected to await the critical moment, and with hearty good-will and steady hand, strike the blow which should rend the Church. A year or two afterward, he had returned to the Congregational Church, from which he came. With him, were Dr. Beman, the veteran strategist of this cause, Dr. Samuel Fisher, Dr. Erskine Mason, of Union Theological Seminary, Dr. William Patton, of the Presbyterian Education Society, and the Rev. E. W. Gilbert, author of the diagram illustrating gradual regeneration by moral suasion. These were the actors, designated in the program; and, as if, to complete the dramatic accuracy and fullness of the arrangement, Drs. Beecher, of Lane, and Taylor, of New Haven, who was present as the delegate from the General Association of Connecticut, sat immediately behind Mr. Cleaveland, ready at the moment of crisis, to stimulate his failing courage, and urge him on to his appointed office.

Thus curiously were brought together, as the conspicuous objects, at a moment so impressive, and in attitudes so significant, a complete exemplification of the strange conglomerate which was about to usurp the name and the authority of the Presbyterian Church. In Drs. Patton and Mason, the voluntary societies and seminaries were represented. Moderate orthodoxy and Presbyterianism recognized an honored exemplar in Dr. Fisher; whilst the Edwardean theology of Mr. Gilbert and Dr. Beman, the Plan of Union Presbyterianism of the latter, the Congregationalism of Mr. Cleaveland and the Pelagianism of Dr. Taylor, all contributed to the propriety and completeness of the exhibition; and the ambiguities and versatility of Dr. Beecher, his catholic affinities and schemes of comprehension, presented a solvent, to fuse and cement in one the entire mass.

The Constitution provides that the Moderator of the last Assembly, if present, “shall open the meeting with a sermon, and preside until a Moderator be chosen.” In accordance with this rule, the Rev. Dr. Elliott opened the Assembly with a sermon from Isaiah lx. 1. After the sermon, he gave the usual notice, that as soon as the benediction was pronounced, he would proceed to organize the Assembly. The benediction was then pronounced, and the Moderator assumed the chair, and called upon the clerks, who, by a standing rule, were constituted the Committee of Commissions, to report the roll.

At this moment, Dr. Patton rose, and hastily calling, “Moderator ! Moderator!” asked leave to offer certain resolutions, which he held in his hand. The Moderator declared him out of order, as the first business was the reporting of the roll. Dr. Patton stated that the resolutions had reference to that very business. But the Constitution expressly provides that “no commissioner shall have a right to deliberate or vote, until his name shall have been enrolled by the Clerk, and his commission examined and filed among the papers of the Assembly.” Until the report of the Clerks, therefore, neither was Dr. Patton competent to introduce any business, nor was there a house to act upon his motion. The Moderator, therefore, pronounced him out of order. Dr. Patton attempted to appeal. But, as the Moderator informed him, there was no house to appeal to. The appeal was, therefore, out of order; and Dr. Patton took his seat. The manifest propriety of the Moderator’s decision, unexpected though it seems to have been, confounded and silenced him; although this was the precise point in the proceedings when the learned counsel had instructed them that these resolutions should be acted on, in order to accomplish the object.

Dr. Patton’s resolutions were condemnatory of the disowning acts of 1837, and proposed to instruct the Clerks to include the names of the Commissioners from the disowned Synods, in the roll of the Assembly. It was the plan of the New School, to force action on this subject before the organization; and upon the resolutions being rejected, to proceed at once to organize the minority as the Assembly, thus anticipating the regular organization and superseding it. Dr. Patton’s failure introduced confusion into the whole plan; which was, thus, already, defeated.

The Permanent Clerk, now, on behalf of the Committee of Commissions, reported the roll of members, present with regular and orderly commissions. He also, reported the names of several persons, without, or with defective commissions; and the case of commissioners present from the Presbytery of Greenbriar, newly organized, by the Synod of Virginia. With the report, the documents belonging to these cases were submitted by the Clerk.

The Moderator, thereupon, announced that the persons whose names had been enrolled were to be considered as members of the Assembly; and stated that if there were any Commissioners present, who had not had opportunity of submitting their commissions to the Committee, they could now present them to the Clerks and be enrolled.

The Rev. Dr. Erskine Mason, here rose and moved to complete the roll, by adding the names of the Commissioners from the disowned Synods, who, he said, had been rejected by the Clerks. Their commissions he now tendered to the chair. But the rule under which the Moderator was acting was imperative. “The persons whose names shall be thus reported shall immediately take their seats and proceed to business. The first act of the Assembly, when thus ready for business, shall be the appointment of a Committee of Elections, whose duty it shall be to examine all informal, and unconstitutional commissions, and report on the same, as soon as practicable.” The design of the Moderator’s call was, to enable the Clerks to complete their report. No other business might interpose between that report and the “first act” provided for by the rule. After its performance, the house would be ready for business, and Dr. Mason’s motion would then be in order. The Moderator, therefore, pronounced the motion of Dr. Mason “out of order, at that time.” Dr. Mason appealed; but, for the same reason, the appeal was disallowed. The Rev. Miles P. Squier now arose and tendered a commission, and claimed a seat, as a member, from the Presbytery of Geneva. The Moderator asked, if the Presbytery belonged to the Synod of Geneva; and upon being answered in the affirmative, replied,” We do not know you, sir.”

The New School leaders now found themselves in a very embarrassing position. A part had been assigned them to perform. The last moment, when its performance would be possible, was passing. And yet the fact upon which it had been predicated had not occurred. Neither the Moderator nor the Assembly had refused to receive the “exscinded” commissioners. The question had been excluded by a strict compliance with the Constitution and rules. Evidently, these rendered it impossible to force upon the attention of the Assembly, in an inchoate and unorganized condition, a question so grave as that of treating as a nullity a solemn decree of a former Assembly. After the Committee of Elections has been appointed, it will be in order to raise the question now pressed. But the propriety, then, of a reference of the subject to that committee would be so evident as to admit of no question. And the Assembly would then be so manifestly and fully organized that an attempt at a tumultuary supersedure of it would have been absurd.

At this moment, Mr. Cleaveland seems to have been greatly embarrassed and agitated. His countenance was flushed and his frame trembled. Apparently he hesitated, and held a hasty conference with those around him. With excited countenances and eager gestures, the voices of Drs. Beecher and Taylor were heard in low but earnest tones urging him, ” Go on! Go on !”

In the mean time, the Rev. Joshua Moore, of the Presbytery of Huntingdon, had responded to the Moderator’s call, and presented himself to the Clerks, for enrollment. But upon examination, finding that he had left his commission at his lodgings, he left the house to procure it. A motion was then made, for the appointment of a Committee of Elections. But the question was interrupted.

Mr. Cleaveland arose, and without addressing the Moderator, proceeded, in a distinct but trembling voice, to read from a written paper an apologetic preamble. The original of this paper was afterward carefully suppressed, as were also the written affidavits of Mr. Cleaveland and Dr. Beman, as to this transaction. They were in possession of the New School counsel on the subsequent trial before judge Rogers; but were not exhibited.

On the Minutes of the New School Assembly, what purported to be “the substance” of Mr. Cleaveland’s preamble was stated in these words: “As the commissioners to the General Assembly of 1838, from a large number of Presbyteries had been refused their seats; and as we have been advised, by counsel learned in the law, that a constitutional organization of the Assembly must be secured at this time and in this place, he trusted it would not be considered as an act of discourtesy, but merely as a matter of necessity, if we now proceed to organize the Assembly of 1838, in the fewest words, the shortest time, and with the least interruption practicable.”

He, therefore, moved, that Dr. Beman preside till a new Moderator be chosen. He proposed the question, which was responded to by a vociferous shout of Aye! It is impossible to determine from the testimony, amid a scene of excitement and confusion, whether upon this or any subsequent motion in the process, the question was reversed. Several of the New School witnesses testified that it was, and that there were negative votes. On the contrary, the New School Minutes stated that the questions were unanimously carried, and the Old School witnesses declared, that they heard no reversal, nor time allowed for it. However, amid calls to order, from the Moderator and members, Mr. Cleaveland put the question and pronounced Dr. Beman elected—the Old School members sitting in indignant silence. Says Dr. Hill, “I had determined to take no part, and was opposed to the proceeding from the first. I expected a riot would ensue. When Mr. Cleaveland made the motion, that Mr. Beman should take the chair, he put the affirmative, “All those who are in favor will say, aye.’ There arose a simultaneous burst. of ayes, some of which were very indecorously and offensively loud. I don’t know that all the scattering ayes had ceased, when he reversed it. I heard a few scattering noes, only from the direction of the Old School. I was astonished at this, because I expected a thundering, ‘No!’ as they claimed to be the majority. I had expected that the noes would be of another character, and was agreeably disappointed. I had anticipated these events, and feared that. a great riot would take place.”

Dr. Beman assumed his imaginary chair, by stepping out of the pew, and standing in the aisle. A general movement now took place in that part of the house, the members rising, mounting the seats, and even standing on the backs of the pews, as the only way in which they could command a view of the new Moderator, amid a crowd on the floor. At the same time the excitement was transmitted to the crowded galleries and the spectators below, whose interest, on both sides, was expressed with less regard to decorum than that of the members. Amid such a scene, however, the Old School members only caught the sound of successive affirmative responses to questions which they could not hear. In a few moments the throng which had clustered about Dr. Beman, changed its position to one about twenty feet farther from the pulpit and the Moderator’s chair; and some five minutes after the rising of Mr. Cleaveland, they retired from the house.

At this instant, another pair of actors presented themselves for a moment, to give a fitting ending to the scene. Dr. Edward Beecher, and the Rev. Eliakim Phelps, agent for the Presbyterian Education Society, Congregational sojourners, both, appeared at the several doors of the house, the heralds of the pageant, and announced to the members in stentorian voices, that the Assembly had adjourned, to meet immediately in the First Presbyterian Church! One of the gentlemen was a little hoarse, and his first effort being not quite satisfactory, he cleared his throat, and repeated the proclamation, in tones which left no room for any to plead ignorance.

And so, the anxieties and controversies of a quarter of a century were ended! The withdrawal of that mixed company from the house in Ranstead Court, was the retirement of the foreign and disturbing elements from the Church. The spirit of rest and peace breathed his influences upon the hearts of the members; and with mingled emotions, tears trickling from many faces, yet profoundly grateful for a great deliverance, the Assembly resumed its interrupted business. A Committee of Elections was appointed; and Dr. Plumer was elected Moderator and the Rev. E. W. Crane Temporary Clerk.

The next day, it appeared that after the call of Dr. Beman to the chair, Dr. Fisher had been chosen Moderator, and Dr. Mason and Mr. Gilbert, Temporary Clerks, and then, respectively, Stated and Permanent Clerks. Thus, the energies of four successive Moderators had been called into requisition with a magic promptness and facility, to get the “constitutional Assembly” upon its feet; Dr. Elliott, the only constitutional feature in the case, by whose mandate the Assembly was convened and opened; Mr. Cleaveland, who, self-elected, gave place in a few moments, to Dr. Beman, as he, again, after two or three minutes’ incumbency, to Dr. Fisher.

After the organization of the body had been thus completed, and the adjournment had taken place to the First Church, the seceding Assembly took up and adopted Dr. Patton’s paper. In it, they declared, that “the Assembly cannot be legally constituted, except by admitting to seats, and equality of powers, in the first instance, all Commissioners who present the usual evidence of their appointment; and that it is the duty of the clerks, and they are hereby directed, to form the roll of the Assembly of 1838,” by including the commissioners from the exscinded Synods and the dissolved Third Presbytery of Philadelphia.

They had just pretended to supersede the regular organization of the Assembly, because Dr. Elliott had refused to entertain this question, “in the first instance.” And now, after completing their own organization, without the essential enrollment of these members, they stultify themselves, by declaring that an organization cannot take place till after such enrollment, and therefore order it to be made, now that the Assembly is already organized.

After the retirement of the New School, and the completion of the organization of the Assembly in Ranstead Court, the roll was called and it was found that of the 220 commissioners who had been enrolled, 152 were present and answered to their names; and 5 were at the moment out of the house; but afterward appeared and acted with the Assembly. Four additional commissioners afterward arrived and reported themselves, whilst two of those who answered at the calling of the roll, afterward declined to recognize either Assembly. So that the whole number acting with the Assembly was 159.

The New School Minutes exhibit the names of 287 Commissioners. But these include 157 of those who were in attendance on the Assembly in Ranstead Court, the 2 neutrals who were there, 5 neutrals who went home, and 2 commissioners who were not in Philadelphia at all; leaving thus 121 in actual attendance on the New School Assembly. These included 58 Commissioners from the disowned Synods, and Third Presbytery of Philadelphia. Thus in the united attendance on the two Assemblies, the Old School had a clear majority over the New of 38 ; and of 31 over New School and neutrals combined.

We have seen that the division grew out of doctrinal diversities. The New School Assembly hastened to define its position on that subject. In 1839 it published “A Declaration, setting forth the present position of our beloved Zion, and the causes which have brought us into our peculiar position.” This paper purports to give a history of the subject, but it is a tissue of extraordinary inaccuracies. The reader, however, is possessed of the means of their correction in these pages.

“It will be found,” say they, “upon a reference to the history of bygone days, that on the 6th day of April, 1691, the Presbyterian and Congressional denominations of Christians in Great Britain met at Stepney, and there, by the blessing of Almighty God, after talking over their differences and agreements, consummated a union of the two denominations, by adopting what was then called, ‘the Heads of Agreement,’ embracing a few cardinal principles, which were to govern them in their fraternal intercourse.

The Presbyterian and Congregational Union sent over one of their number, by the name of Makemie, as a missionary to the new settlements in America; who, in connection with Messrs. Macnish, Andrews, Hampton, Taylor, Wilson, and Davis, in 1704, formed the first Presbytery which ever existed in America, by the name of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. This mother Presbytery was formed upon the liberal Christian principles which governed the London Association, by which Mr. Makemie was sent to this country, and was composed, partly of Presbyterian, and partly of Congregational ministers and churches. Mr. Andrews, the first pastor of the Metropolitan or First Church in Philadelphia, was a decided Congregational Presbyterian, and the church over which he presided was under the care of the Presbytery sixty-four years, before they elected any ruling elders. This state of things continued until 1716, when the Synod of Philadelphia was formed out of the Presbyteries of Philadelphia, New Castle, Snow Hill, and Long Island, the last three having grown up, after the formation of the first, in 1704.”

The “Declaration” traces the history down to the Adopting Act. But, under that name, it exhibits the Preliminary Act, whilst the Adopting Act itself is entirely ignored. It asserts that the “rash departure” of the Synod, in the Explanatory Act of 1736, “from the tolerant and fraternal principles of 1691, in England, and of 1704 and 1729, in America, led to the painful schism of 1741.” This, however was healed, in 1758, when the two Synods were reunited, and in the sixth article of their union, they agreed to adopt the Confession of Faith, Catechisms and Directory, “as they had been adopted, in 1728.” It then relates the history of correspondence with the Congregational Churches; and of the Plan of Union ; of which it says:

“These Plans of Union between the two denominations, were a virtual recognition of the benign principles established in 1691, in England, and afterward adopted in America, and made the basis of Presbyterianism in the original Presbytery and Synod of Philadelphia.

“These fundamental principles continued to be recognized and acted upon by the Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, and the subordinate judicatories, with few exceptions, until 1837.”

The “Declaration” goes on to give an account of the transactions of 1837 and 1838, and the commencement of legal proceedings, designed, say they, if possible to restore the purity of the Church, “and secure religious liberty.”

In a word, the division grew out of the question whether the Preliminary Act of 1729, erroneously called the Adopting Act, was the fundamental constitution of the Church. The issue was between the standards of the Church, and the “liberal principles” of 1691. The same issue is now anew presented to our Church.

Here we pause, leaving it to another occasion, should the Head of the Church graciously bestow the necessary leisure, to develop more fully the history here briefly sketched, in some of its aspects; and trace the results of the measures of 1837 and 1838; the acts of the latter year for the pacification of the Church; the separation of the elements throughout the ecclesiastical limits; the proceedings at law; the charge of Judge Rogers and finding of the jury, and the final triumph of truth and righteousness, in the decision of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, in Bank, as set forth in the opinion of Chief Justice Gibson. It declared the disowning acts to be “certainly constitutional and strictly just,” that “the Commissioners from those Synods were not entitled to seats in the Assembly, and that their names were properly excluded from the roll;” that “an appeal from the decision of the Moderator did not lie; and he incurred no penalty for disallowing it;” “that the Assembly which met in the First Presbyterian Church was not the legitimate successor of the Assembly of 1837; and that the [Old School] defendants are not guilty of the usurpation with which they are charged,” in claiming the succession.

The blessings of thirty years have crowned the works of our fathers, and experience, in all those years, has attested the wisdom of their policy, and the manifest approval of the Head of the Church, through it, endowing her with prosperity and peace.