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disgraceful warmth, but will do a lasting injury to the Presbyterian Church, and, as we believe, to the cause of truth and piety.
If it is now found that our differences are so wide, that we cannot live together in peace, let us peaceably agree to separate, into two distinct denominations. This should, however, be the last resort. The Church of Christ is one, and all who agree in essential matters should hold communion together, notwithstanding minor differences. And if division, on account of some diversity in sentiment commences, there is no telling where it will end; for we presume, there are no two men, who, in all their opinions, on every subject, entirely agree. And as, not only our presbyteries, but our congregations are, in multitudes of cases, composed of persons who agree partly with one and partly with the other side, a divi. sion of the Church by a line of difference on theological points, would split many Churches into two parts, neither of which would be able, without the other, to support the gospel among them. Endless controversies, also, respecting the Church property, would necessarily arise, and society would be agitated and convulsed to its very foundations. And as brethren, differing as we do now, have hitherto continued to live in peace, and in most places, in great harmony; and have loved each other as brethren, and have cordially co-operated in promoting the Redeemer's kingdom, why may not this still be the case, after the present exacerbation of feeling has subsided. Upon -mature deliberation, therefore, we declare our sentiments to be opposed to all schemes which tend to the division of the Presbyterian Church. We do not know, indeed, that there are any persons who seriously wish or meditate any
such thing. But sometimes, hints and rumors come to our ears, which seem to have this bearing. We deem it, therefore, a duty to take this opportunity of disclaiming every thought of this kind for ourselves, and of avowing our intention to oppose firmly all measures, wherever they may originate, which have a tendency to produce division in the Presbyterian body.
But while we are opposed to a division, we are of opinion that the present extended and enlarged condition of the body, requires a new organization of the higher ecclesiastical judicatories. And we will now proceed to delineate our plan; not expecting in this first draft, to have every arrangement perfect, but hoping to be able to furnish such an outline, as will meet with the approbation of a large majority, both of ministers and people.
The first step which we propose in this new organization is, that the synods as now constituted, be dissolved; and instead of having a convention of all the ministers, and an elder from each Church, let the whole Church be divided into six synods, to be constituted by an equal representation from the presbyteries, according to the original ratio by which the General Assembly was formed. Let each of these synods meet annually, and possess all the judicial and superintending persons which now belong to the General Assembly. That is, let them be supreme in all judicial decisions which come up before them by complaint or appeal, from the presbyteries, or by the review of their ministers. In short, we would place each of these synods in the same relation to the Churches under their care, as the General Assembly now holds to the whole body. With this only difference, that the General Assembly would, upon the plan now proposed, be a Board of Union, and an advisory council to the whole Church,
The General Assembly, according to this organization, would no longer be a high court of appeals, as it now is; nor a judicial body at all; except that any synod might have the privilege of requesting the opinion and advice of this body, in any matter of difficulty and importance.
According to this plan, the General Assembly, instead of being formed by a delegation from the presbyteries, as at present, would be constituted by a deputation from the synods, in proportion to their numbers. It is not necessary now to fix upon the precise ratio of representation; say one minister and one elder for every twenty, more or less; but so regulated, that at no time, the Assembly should consist of more than one hundred members. It is not proposed to make any change in the time or place of meeting. Annual meetings are greatly to be preferred to triennial, or any longer period. To the Assembly, thus constituted, let it be made the duty of the synods to send up an annual report, containing the statistics of the presbyteries and churches under their care; together with a succinct narrative of the state of religion within their bounds respectively, from which the General Assembly might make out and publish a general view of the condition of the churches, and such statistical tables as are now usually printed, with the minutes, annually, or triennially. To this body it would belong also, to hold correspondence and friendly intercourse,
with other denominations of Christians, and with foreign Churches. Indeed, the proposed plan of organization would not in the least interfere with the existing relations between the General Assembly and the several evangelical denominations, with which there is now held a friendly intercourse, according to articles mutually agreed upon by the parties.
The funds which are now held by the General Assembly must still remain in their hands; for they have not the legal power of transferring them to any other body. They are held by corporate bodies, which depend on the General Assembly for their existence; and would be forfeited, if that body did not retain the possession and management of them. But it is not foreseen that any difficulty would arise, in 'regard to this matter, from the proposed organization of the body. As far as these funds are concerned, the Assembly would remain unaltered. The diminution of its members, and the curtailing of its judicial powers—which is all the change proposed -would not affect its capacity to hold these funds; and when the body should consist of fewer members, and have less business to transact, much greater attention might be paid to the management and appropriation of these funds than has hitherto been practicable. All the permanent funds possessed by the General Assembly are appropriated to specific objects. These are either the education of candidates for the ministry, or the employment of missionaries, to preach the gospel to the destitute. As these have been given to the whole Church, it would not be consistent with the intention of the donors, or the legal charters by which they are held, to transfer them to any one synod, or to divide them among the synods. tainly, these funds, and the institutions supported by them, can be as wisely and impartially managed by a General Assembly, such as is here proposed, as by the body as now constituted.
The Theological Seminary at Princeton, and the Western Theological Seminary, are the only permanent institutions under the immediate care of the Assembly; no alteration would be requisite in the relation which these bear to that body; and the other seminaries would continue to be regulated by their respective constitutions, which of course could not be affected by the change proposed.
We have thus hastily and briefly drawn the outline of the plan, which we would wish to see adopted; and which, we sincerely believe, would greatly promote the peace and prosperity of the Presbyterian Church in these United States.
VOL. IV. No. I. -F
It remains to be shown, how such a division of the Church, into representative synods, may be most conveniently made. Perfect accuracy in the details of such a plan, upon its first consideration, cannot be expected, but it may be useful to give a general idea of the extent and boundaries of the several synods, according to our present views of what would be expedient.
Beginning then at the north, we would include in the first of these bodies, all the synods in the State of New York, together with such parts of New Jersey, as might choose to be connected with this synod.
The second would contain, besides the principal part of the synod of New Jersey, the whole of the synods of Philadelphia and Pittsburg, except the presbyteries of Lewes, Baltimore, and the District of Columbia.
The third would comprehend all the presbyteries in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and in the Territories north of Ohio.
The fourth synod would embrace all the presbyteries of Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Arkansas Territory.
The fifth, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.
And the sixth, North Carolina, Virginia, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and those members of Lewes presbytery, who reside in the State of Delaware.
In the above mentioned division, respect has been had to two principles; first, geographical contiguity; and secondly, similarity in views and habits. The object is to promote peace among brethren between whom there are some shades of difference, both as it relates to doctrine, and church polity, and discipline. It ought, therefore, to be admitted, as a radical principle, in new-modelling the Church, that any presbytery-two-thirds of the members concurring-should have the privilege of connecting themselves with a synod different from that within the limits of which they are situated. This provision, although it may appear objectionable, on general principles, yet, we believe, in the present condition of our Church, is one of great importance, as its effect will be to prevent interminable controversies, about non-essential matters. Indeed, the professed and principal object of the proposed organization is, to bring together, respectively, those members of our Church who are pretty nearly agreed in their doctrinal and ecclesiastical views: and to separate those whose differences are such, ag to keep them in perpetual agitation. We
are aware, that there are among us some polemical spirits, who are of opinion, that the best way is to fight it out, as they are confident that the truth will prevail. In regard to fundamental errors, we are of the same opinion; but in relation to differences among brethren, we think the case is very different. If these cannot agree, let them withdraw from one another, as Abram from Lot.
Let it be granted then, that a presbytery in the city of New York, or in any other part of that State, which would, from congeniality of views and feelings, prefer a connexion with the synod of Pennsylvania; or, that a presbytery in the latter synod, which would prefer belonging to New York, be permitted to do, in this respect, what was agreeable to them. Indeed, we must proceed upon the principle of allowing to others the same rights and privileges, which we claim for ourselves. Now, it is not our purpose to enter extensively into a consideration of the reasons which recommend to us, this change in the organization of the higher judicatories of our Church: we shall only throw out a few hints, leaving it to our readers to follow these out to the legitimate consequences.
In the first place, then, we would remark, that as it relates to the impartial and wise administration of justice, in cases of appeal from a lower judicatory, to say the least, nothing would be lost, by leaving the final judgment with these sy nods, constituted as described above. No reason can be assigned why these bodies will not be as competent to decide correctly, in all cases, which may come before them, as any General Assembly. The only conceivable advantage of the latter would be, that the members of the court, coming mostly from a great distance, would be more likely to be impartial; but let it be remembered, that these synods will be representative bodies; and as it relates to impartiality, in all common cases, it is as good for a judge to reside at a hundred miles distance, as at a thousand. And on some accounts, it is far better to have judges who are near enough to take an interest in the business, which may come before them; for, we think, that in the General Assembly, we have observed great inconvenience arising from the fact that a large portion of the court felt too little interest in the case of persons very remote from them, to give due attention to the evidence adduced. Certainly, judges who are within a moderate distance, will feel their responsibility more than those very remote. By this arrange