Sivut kuvina

its care to make use of all proper measures to correct this widespread evil.-1883, p. 689; 1885, p. 639.

[See Directory for Worship, chap. xi., sec. vi.]

15. Deliverances on Polygamy and Mormonism.

Polygamy a Criminal Offense, and to be Suppressed.

a. Overture.-The Committee also recommended the adoption of the following preamble and resolutions, referred to them by the Assembly: Whereas, By a recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, the sin of polygamy has been declared to be a criminal offense against the Constitution and the laws of our country, and under it prosecution and conviction have followed;

Resolved, 1. That this Assembly hereby records its grateful acknowledgment to God that the legal status of this affront to our Christian civilization and this menace to our social order has been finally determined, and so determined as to declare the laws and the policy of our country, in respect to this crime, to be in accord with the conscientious convictions of all patriotic and Christian men.

Resolved, 2. That this Assembly earnestly invokes the continued and persistent efforts of all executive officials for the maintenance and the execution of this law, and hereby also appeals to the patriotic Christian men and women of our land to use their united influence in support of that public sentiment, now formulated into legal enactment, which has exposed the pretense of this monstrous practice to be a religious observance, and which justly holds it to companionship with other vices which are the contempt and abhorrence of mankind.

Resolved, 3. That these resolutions be transmitted to the Assemblies now in session at Louisville and Memphis, with a request for concurrent action.

Resolved, 4. That these resolutions be transmitted, as an official expression from this body, to His Excellency the President of the United States. -Adopted 1879, pp. 586, 587.

b. Overture. In reply to the overture on Mormonism, we recommend the adoption of the following:

Resolved, That, inasmuch as the General Assembly of 1879 expressed its abhorrence of the abominations of Mormonism in the action taken on the subject of polygamy, and did further heartily commend the steps taken by the civil power towards the total suppression of this great iniquity, it is deemed unnecessary for this Assembly to make any further deliverance in this matter, other than to express its earnest hope that the General Government will use its utmost endeavor to wipe out the last vestige of this monstrous evil at the earliest practicable period.-Adopted 1880, p. 77.

c. Overtures from the Presbyteries of Chicago and Logansport, praying the Assembly to take further action on the subject of polygamy. Your Committee would respectfully offer the following for adoption by the Assembly:

Action, condemnatory of polygamy, has been taken at several recent. meetings of the Assembly. Yet, as the practice of this vice continues, not only unsuppressed but unabated, within the bounds of our national territory, and since a recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States makes the attempt to strike it more difficult than before, the Assembly feels that silence on the subject would now be inexcusable. This enormous wickedness has gradually grown through a period of years,

organizing itself into a government for its own defence, under the eye of the national government, until it has gained sufficient force to defy the legislative and executive power of the nation. It now stands more haughty and resolved than ever. Its efforts to strengthen itself by immigration of the weak and ignorant from Europe, and by despotic suppression of liberty among its votaries and victims, are systematically exerted. For its own fortification, it is forcing its way from its original stronghold into adjacent territory, where, unobserved, it may take root and fasten on the land by finding quiet recognition in local laws.

Its spirit grows, with age, no less hostile to the law of Christianity, to the instincts of morality, to the essential principles of civilization, and to the existence of liberty for the people. It is condemned alike by the Church, by the State, by the family, and by the individual conscience. It is abhorred by God. It seems all the more detestable because it hides its crime for shelter under the sacred garb of religion. It is growing as slavery grew, from infancy to maturity of grasp upon the national life. The terrible conflict required for the extermination of the one should sound timely warning as to the latent perils of the other. The territories, in which polygamy yet exists, are under the control of the President and of Congress, i. e., of the national government. The nation, as such, is therefore responsible for its continuance. The Christian citizens of the nation bear their share in this common responsibility.

Should these Territories once become States with polygamy maintained, the difficulty of reaching it would be vastly heightened. They are rapidly increasing in wealth and in population, and will soon be knocking for

admission as States at the national door. Efficient action for its obliteration must then, if taken at all, begin without delay.

1. We, therefore, as an Assembly, solemnly protest before God and before men against this heinous and abominable crime, as a foul blot on the face of our country, for the existence of which God will hold the nation to account, and for which he will surely call it into judgment except the evil be speedily abated.

2. We rejoice in the determination of the President of the United States, as expressed in his inaugural address, to deal vigorously with this iniquity. And we assure him of our sympathy and support in all lawful and just efforts for its extinction, praying him not to withhold his hand. 3. We reiterate our hearty approval of the stand, taken by Governor Murray of Utah and his counselors, and by the United States courts of the Territory in hostility to polygamous marriages.

4. We respectfully memorialize the national legislature to enact whatever laws may seem most wise and most efficient for the utter obliteration of this vice, whether as an organized system or as an individual practice.

5. And we urge our own members, without respect to party lines, zealously to exert their influence in every lawful method for the enactment of an amendment to the national Constitution that shall for ever forbid the existence of polygamy in the nation.

Your Committee would also recommend that a copy of this action be officially laid before the President of the United States and the presiding officers of the two houses of Congress, as conveying the unanimous sentiment of the ministry and membership of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Adopted 1881, pp. 549, 550.

d. The Special Committee on Mormonism respectfully recommend to the General Assembly the adoption of the following resolutions:

Resolved, 1. That the Presbyterian Church regards the doctrines and practices of the Mormon institution with loathing and abhorrence, and the

continued existence, in this country and age, of an organization that encourages and defends polygamy as a foul blot on our national character and institutions.

2. That we have noticed with great gratification the recent vigorous action of Congress in the enactment of laws for the suppression of this great evil, and look with confidence to the Government of the United States for their prompt and vigorous execution.

3. That, in view of our profound conviction that the national legislature will succeed in removing this evil only when accompanied by the spread of the gospel of Christ, this Assembly, while commending the Board of Home Missions for its past efforts, urges still greater effort in all the territory in which Mormonism and polygamy exist.-Adopted 1882, pp. 65, 66.

16. Cruelty to Animals.

The consideration of the paper on cruelty to animals presented on the second day of the sessions, was resumed, and the paper adopted, as follows:

Whereas, It has pleased God, in his holy providence, to raise up helpers, in these latter years, to protect the inferior creation, the companions and helpers of man, from that formerly unrestricted tyranny and cruelty to which they were exposed, so that now, in a majority of the States and Territories of this country, laws in their behalf have been passed, and societies authorized, to prevent all acts of barbarism and cruelty against the poor dumb creatures whom God has committed to our charge; and

Whereas, The courts of our country have for the most part sustained these laws, by fines and imprisonments, whenever and wherever offences have been committed and the facts proved, so that now great reforms are manifest where these societies have existed for any length of time; and

Whereas, The apostle Paul, in urging the proper support of the ministry upon the Church, and "That they which preach the gospel, should live of gospel," quotes the ancient command to the Hebrews, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn;" and

Whereas, All acts of cruelty to the inferior creation tend to produce cruelty in families, and a return to barbarism in society, and are utterly abhorrent to the spirit of the gospel;-this General Assembly do earnestly recommend their ministers and members everywhere to aid in this good work, to sustain and defend these societies engaged in this noble reform, and that they offer constant prayers to the Holy Dove, the Spirit of God, for his tender influence, to inspire the hearts of men with mercy, and to the Lamb of God, the Head of the Church, to hasten the day, when his own gentle and loving nature shall be given to all men, and "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb," "and a little child shall lead them."1875, p. 510.

IV. Nothing shall, therefore, be the object of judicial process, which cannot be proved to be contrary to the Holy Scriptures, or to the regulations and practice of the Church founded thereon; nor anything which does not involve those evils which discipline is intended to prevent. [I. 4.]

1. New Terms of Communion will not be Sanctioned.

On the question whether the manufacturer, vender or retailer of intoxicating drinks should be continued in the full communion of the Church. The Committee recommend the following resolution, viz.: "That whilst

the Assembly rejoice in the success of the temperance reformation, and will use all lawful means to promote it, they cannot sanction the adoption of any new terms of communion."-Adopted 1842, p. 16, O. S.

2. Each Case must be Judged of by its own Circumstances. Resolved, That the records of the Synod of Pittsburg be approved, except so far as they seem to establish a general rule in regard to the use and sale of ardent spirits as a beverage, which use and sale are generally to be decidedly disapproved; but each case must be decided in view of all the attendant circumstances that go to modify and give character to the same.-1843, p. 189, O. S.

V. All children born within the pale of the visible Church are members of the Church, are to be baptized, are under the care of the Church, and subject to its government and discipline, and when they have arrived at years of discretion, they are bound to perform all the duties of church members. [I. 6.]

[See in full under DIRECTORY FOR WORSHIP, chap. viii., sec. i.-iii., and chap. x., sec. i. In 1884, sec. 5 was adopted as follows:

5. All baptized persons are members of the Church, are under its care, and subject to its government and discipline. When baptized children arrive at the years of discretion, they are bound to perform all the duties of church members.-1884, p. 27. În 1885, sec. v. was adopted as above. -1885, p. 601.-M.]



VI. Process against an alleged offender shall not be commenced unless some person undertakes to sustain the charge, or unless a judicatory finds it necessary for the ends of discipline to investigate the alleged offence. [IV. 2.]

Judicial Cases should be Continued without Interruption. The Judicial Committee recommend this Assembly to adopt the rule of the last General Assembly (Minutes of 1864, p. 321), as follows:

Whereas, In the experience of this General Assembly and others the confusion arising from the frequent interruption of important business by other items of business wholly disconnected has greatly hindered the satisfactory interest and understanding of the members, as well as protracted our proceedings; therefore,

Resolved, That it be made a standing rule of the Assembly that all judicial cases be continued without interruption during the sessions of the day, after the Assembly shall have entered upon them, according to appointment, for the order of the day.-1865, p. 535, O. S.

VII. An offence, gross in itself, may have been committed in such circumstances, that plainly the offender cannot be prosecuted to convietion. In all such cases it is better to wait until God, in his righteous providence, shall give further light, than, by unavailing prosecution, to weaken the force of discipline. [III. 3.]

VIII. No prosecution shall be allowed in a case of alleged personal injury, where the injured party is the prosecutor, unless those means of reconciliation have been tried, which are required by our Lord, Matthew xviii. 15-17: "If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church." [II. 3.]

1. No Testimony may be Introduced Injurious to Parties not on Trial.

a. An overture on a case of discipline was taken up, and is as follows: Suppose a member of the Church is on trial, and his accuser is "Common Fame." One specification against him is, "Speaking evil of his brethren A and B, while he neglects to take any gospel steps to bring them to repentance or to trial."

The specification is abundantly sustained by testimony, but the person on trial proposes to introduce testimony to prove that the reports which he circulated, and the opinions which he pronounced derogatory to the brethren named, were true. Has the accused a right to introduce such testimony tending to injure the character of parties not on trial, nor connected at all with the prosecution, and having no opportunity for defence?

Would the Session be authorized to reject such testimony, on the ground that if introduced it would not exculpate the accused, inasmuch as he had no right to circulate evil reports against his brethren, whether true or false, while neglecting to bring them to trial?

To this the following answer was given:

The person on trial under charges tabled on the ground of "Common Fame" has no right to introduce testimony which inculpates his brethren who are not on trial, and who have no opportunity to defend themselves, because it was his previous duty to take proper steps, if the persons were guilty of the evils which he had alleged against them, to bring them to repentance or free the church from the scandal.-1852, p. 177, N. S.

b. The Committee to which was referred the petition of certain individuals, members of the congregation in Tammany street, Baltimore, reported, and their report, being read and amended, was adopted, and is as follows, viz.:

That while it is unquestionably the privilege of individuals and members of the Presbyterian Church, when they think they see the peace. purity or prosperity of the Church in danger, either from an individual or from an inferior court, to apply to the General Assembly in an orderly manner for redress or direction, yet, in such cases, unless they mean to

*Common fame, since the adoption of the Revised Book of Discipline, is no longer a ground of process. The principle, however, set forth in the above deliverance holds in all cases of prosecution. See Book of Discipline, sec. vi., clause 2.—M.

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