Views of National Reform, Series One

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NATIONAL REFORMED PRESBYTERIANISM

The National Reform movement is nothing else than Reformed Presbyterianism in politics. The principles of the so-called National Reform, or Religious Amendment Association, are only the principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. In proof of this we have the following facts:— VNR 125.1

First fact. The first step that was ever taken, the first paper that was ever presented, in favor of’ the National Reform movement, or the organization of that association, was by a Reformed Presbyterian—Mr John Alexander. VNR 125.2

Second fact. Until within about the last three years, all the active public workers—the District Secretaries—of the National Reform Association have been Reformed Presbyterians, and all but three of them—Leiper, Weir, and Mills are now—Reformed Presbyterians. Besides these its leading advocates have also been, or are, Reformed Presbyterian preachers, Rev. Jonathan Edwards, D. D., Prof. J. R. W. Sloane, D. D. (now dead), Rev. A. M. Milligan (now dead), Rev. J. C. K. Milligan, Prof. S. F. Scovel, J. M. Armour, and others. And “District Secretary” Rev. M. A. Gault says he is “proud to belong to a denomination which appropriates $10,000 of its funds for political agitation each year.” VNR 125.3

Third fact. Both of the editors of the Christian Statesman—Dr. McAllister and T. P. Stevenson—are Reformed Presbyterians. Dr. McAllister was not long since a professor in a Reformed Presbyterian College, and is now pastor of a Reformed Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg; and Mr. Stevenson is pastor of a Reformed Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. VNR 126.1

Fourth fact. Mr. John W. Pritchard, by whom the Christian Nation is “conducted,” is a Reformed Presbyterian; and for two years or more was the Reform Presbyterian Synod’s “Financial Agent for National Reform.” VNR 126.2

Fifth fact. Both the Christian Statesman and the Christian Nation are recognized church papers of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, as well as organs of National Reform. VNR 126.3

Sixth fact. The Reformed Presbyterian, for the month of January, 1870, published to the world an article by Rev. James Wallace, in which are the following statements:— VNR 126.4

1. “This important truth of the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the nations, was attained by our reforming and martyred Fathers in Scotland, and has been transmitted down to us sealed with their blood, and is the precious and peculiar inheritance of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and distinguishes her from all the other evangelical churches in this and other lands. No other church professes to maintain this great principle in its practical applications.” VNR 126.5

2. “The distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church are the principles, and the only principles, of National Reform.” VNR 127.1

3. “The proposed amendment of the Federal Constitution is an acknowledgment by the Government that God is the author and source of all authority and power in civil government; that the Lord Jesus Christ is the ruler of nations, and that his revealed will contained in the Bible is the supreme law of nations. Now the association for National Reform proposes to have these distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church adopted into the Constitution of the United States, and annulling any part of that Constitution that may be consistent with these principles.” “The adoption of this amendment into the Constitution would be the Government’s doing ... the highest honor to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the greatest benefit to our church.” VNR 127.2

4. “The principles of National Reform are our principles, and its work is our work. National Reform is simply the practical application of the principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church for the reformation of the nation.” (The italics are his.) VNR 127.3

Seventh fact. These statements are confirmed by Rev. J. R. W. Sloane’s account of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the “Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia,” in which he says:— VNR 127.4

“The more special and distinctive principle of this church, the one in which she differs from all others, is her practical protest against the secular character of the United States Constitution. Holding to the universal headship of Christ, and that civil government is a divine ordinance, and one of the ‘all things’ put under him as the mediatorial ruler of the universe, and that to him the allegiance of all nations is due, Reformed Presbyterians refuse close incorporation with any Government which does not in some form recognize these principles, and give them effective expression in its legislation. On examination of the United States Constitution, that remarkable document is found to contain no recognition of God as the source of all legitimate civil authority, nor of his law as supreme above all human laws, nor of his Son as governor among the nations... The Constitution does not recognize the Bible, the Christian Sabbath, Christian morality, Christian qualifications for civil officials, and gives no legal basis for any Christian feature in the administration of government.... They take the deepest interest in that reform movement which has for its object the amendment of the United States Constitution in those particulars in which they consider it defective. Indeed, they feel specially called to aid in its success, at whatever cost or personal sacrifice.” VNR 127.5

Eighth fact. The Reformed Presbyterian Synod of 1886, in its report on National Reform, said: “It is ours to hold up the ideals of God, which have originated the National Reform cause.” And the Synod of 1885 said of National Reform, that “this is the tap-root of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.” VNR 128.1

Therefore the sum of all this matter is the Undeniable Fact that National Reform is nothing under heaven but Reformed Presbyterianism—and that in politics. VNR 128.2

The principles of National Reform, then, being “the distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church,” when these “distinctive principles” shall have been adopted into the Constitution of the United States, then what will that be but a union of Church and State? Can anybody tell? And when they shall have succeeded in “annulling any parts of that Constitution that may be inconsistent with these principles,” then what will the United States Constitution be but a Reformed Presbyterian creed? Then how can this be anything but a union of Church and State? VNR 128.3

In proof of the “non-sectarian character of the National Reform creed” the Christian Nation proposes the fact that “the membership of the National Reform Association embraces representatives of almost every evangelical communion. Joseph Cook and Dr. Miner, Dr. Leonard and Bishop Littlejohn, Frances E. Willard and Julia McNair Wright, and thousands of others, ... find room and welcome on the broad platform of National Reform.” But it proves nothing of the kind, because the “broad (?) platform of National Reform” is composed only of the narrow, distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and when these people of other communions step upon that platform, they in that adopt the distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and so far make themselves Reformed Presbyterians. And when they of other communions push the National Reform movement to a successful issue, they are only pushing to a successful issue the distinctive principles of Reformed Presbyterianism; they are only fixedly planting in the soil of our national affairs “the tap-root of the Reformed Presbyterian Church.” VNR 129.1

The logic is perfectly easy. By their own words we have the following syllogism:— VNR 129.2

MAJOR: Reformed Presbyterianism “originated the National Reform cause.” VNR 130.1

MINOR: “The distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church are the principles, and the only principles, of National Reform.” VNR 130.2

CONCLUSION: National Reform is only Reformed Presbyterianism. And when the National Reform Association asks the nation to recognize National Reform, it asks the nation to recognize Reformed Presbyterianism, and, in their own words, to do “the greatest benefit to our church.” VNR 130.3

It is, therefore, as clear as a sunbeam that the National Reform movement is an effort to put into the Constitution of the United States, and make practical there, the distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and that the National Reform party is doing the work of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. And when the United Presbyterian Church, the United Brethren Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Prohibitionists, the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, or any other church, party, or union, lends its support to the National Reform party, it is but doing the work of the Reformed Presbyterian Church,—it is simply aiding to make of practical application in the civil affairs of this nation, the distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. VNR 130.4

In short, to condense the whole subject into a single sentence, the National Reform party is only the cat’s paw by which the Reformed Presbyterian—well, the Reformed Presbyterian Church—proposes to draw our national chestnut out of the fire of “political atheism. For be it known that the Reformed Presbyte- rians refuse to count themselves citizens under our present Constitution. It is a disciplinary offense for a member of that church to vote, or hold office, under our Constitution. So she has created the National Reform party to do the political work, and stir up, or persuade, others to vote for and accomplish the subversion of the Constitution, and then she will take to herself all the glory—and dismal glory it will be. But as she proposes to “gladly join hands” with the Catholic Church to obtain it, she may also allow Rome to share with her the glory. It will well be worthy of both. VNR 130.5

And yet, knowing that the principles of National Reform are the peculiar principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church; knowing that the attack upon the secular character of the Constitution is the distinctive principle of that church, “the one in which she differs from all others;” knowing that the success of the National Reform movement will be but to make practical, in the affairs of this Government, these principles which are peculiar to the Reformed Presbyterian Church—knowing all this, Dr. McAllister, T. P. Stevenson, W. J. Coleman, M. A. Gault, R. C. Wylie, J. M. Foster, and all their Reformed Presbyterian National Reform associates, in National Convention assembled, will stand before the intelligent people of this nation and “affirm” and “re-affirm” that this movement does not tend, “in the least degree,” toward a union of Church and State! but “will afford the fullest security against a corrupting church establishment.” But suppose the Catholic Church were to openly avow her purpose to have the distinct- ive principles of the Catholic Church adopted into the Constitution of the United States, annulling any parts of that Constitution that may be inconsistent with these principles, is there anybody in this broad land who would not set that down as a project to unite Church and State in this Government? Not one. But if such a movement on the part of the Catholic Church would threaten a union of Church and State, how is it that this movement of the Reformed Presbyterian Church threatens no such thing. If such a thing by the Catholic Church would be a union of Church and State, how is it that the same thing by the Reformed Presbyterian Church would not be? To ask these questions is to answer them. VNR 131.1

But let us look into this thing a little further. Everybody who is acquainted with the Reformed Presbyterian Church knows that it claims to be the direct and only lineal descendant of the Covenanters, and prides itself upon being the modern representative and the sole conservator of genuine Covenanter principles. In fact, this is plainly shown above in No. I of the quotations from Mr. James Wallace and the Reformed Presbyterian. Besides this, the title of what was then the Reformed Presbyterian is now the Reformed Presbyterian and Covenanter. Therefore, by studying the Covenanter principles and their practical application, we may form some idea of what the result would be if the National Reform party should succeed in making “practical application of the principles of the Reformed Presbyterian [Covenanter] Church” in this nation. VNR 132.1

The best summary on the subject of these principles that we have seen is an article by “A Presbyterian Minister” in the New York Independent of November 11, 1880, entitled, “Is it Right—a Protest.” And the best summary of the application of the principles that perhaps anybody has ever seen is Chapter V of Buckle’s “History of Civilization.” VNR 132.2

The Covenants which embody the principles of the Covenanters, and, perforce, of the National Reformers, are entitled, “The National Covenant or Confession of Faith,” and the “Solemn League and Covenant,” and are both of Scotch Presbyterian origin. The first of these, “The National Covenant or Confession of Faith,” was “first subscribed in 1580; again, by all persons of all ranks in 1581; again, in 1590; again, in the language of its title, ‘subscribed by Barons, Nobles, Burgesses, Ministers, and Commons; in 1638, approven by the General Assembly, 1638 and 1639; and subscribed again by persons of all ranks and qualities in the year 1639, by an ordinance of Council upon the supplication of the General Assembly, an act of the General Assembly, certified by an act of Parliament 1640;’ and, finally, in compliance with the urgent demands of Scottish Presbyterians, subscribed by Charles II., in 165o and 1651, as being, along with the ‘Solemn League and Covenant,’ the one prime and only condition of their restoring him to power.” VNR 133.1

The following act will show the purpose of the Covenant, and will give some idea of the means by which that purpose was to be accomplished:— VNR 133.2

“Assembly at Edinburg, Aug. 30, 1639, Ses. 23. VNR 133.3

“Act Ordaining, by Ecclesiastical Authority, the Subscription of the Confession of Faith and Covenant with the Assembly’s Declaration. VNR 133.4

“The General Assembly considering the great happiness which may flow from a full and perfect union of this kirk and kingdom, by joining of all in one and the same covenant with God, with the king’s Majesty, and amongst ourselves; having by our great oath declared the uprightness and loyalty of our intentions in all our proceedings, and having withal supplicated his Majesty’s High Commissioner, and the lords of his Majesty’s honorable Privy Council, to enjoin, by act of Council, all the lieges in time coming to subscribe the Confession or Faith and Covenant; which, as a testimony of our fidelity to God, and loyalty to our king, we have subscribed: And seeing his Majesty’s High Commissioner, and the lords of his Majesty’s honorable Privy Council, have granted the desire of our supplication, ordaining, by civil authority, all his Majesty’s lieges, in time coming, to subscribe the foresaid Covenant: that our union may be the more full and perfect, we, by our act and constitution ecclesiastical, do approve the foresaid Covenant in all the heads and clauses thereof; and ordain of new, under all ecclesiastical censure, That all the masters of universities, colleges, and schools, all scholars at the passing of their degrees, all persons suspected of Papistry, or any other error; and, finally, all the members of this kirk and kingdom, subscribe the same, with these words prefixed to their subscription, ‘The Article of this Covenant, which was at the first subscription referred to the determination of the General Assembly, being determined; and thereby the five articles of Perth, the government of the kirk by bishops, the civil places and power of kirkmen, upon the reasons and grounds contained in the acts of the General Assembly, declared to be unlawful within this kirk; we subscribe according to the determination foresaid.’ And ordain the Covenant, with this declaration, to be insert in the registers of the Assemblies of this kirk, general, provincial, and presbyterial, adperpetuam rei memoriam. And in all humility, supplicate his Majesty’s High Commis- sioner, and the honorable Estates of Parliament, by their authority, to ratify and enjoin the same, under all civil pains; which will tend to the glory of God, preservation of religion, the King’s Majesty’s honor, and perfect peace of this kirk and kingdom.” VNR 134.1

What does that act propose?—“A full and perfect union of this kirk [church] and kingdom;” “that our union may be more full and perfect.” The principles of the Covenant and the Covenanters therefore are clearly the principles of a union of Church and State. Now, as the principles of National Reform are the distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and as the distinctive principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church are the principles of the Covenanters, and as the principles of the Covenanters are the principles of a full and perfect union of Church and State, it stands proved to a demonstration that the National Reform movement aims directly at a union, yes, a full and perfect union, of Church and State. And whenever you read or hear of the National Reform Association, or the National Association for the Religious Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, you may understand that that means the Church and State Association. We could easily continue this indictment through half a dozen different counts, but that is not our object here. This, however, is enough to justify us fully in branding upon the brazen face of this association the inscription—National reform is Church and State, and that alone. VNR 135.1

Among many other like things, that Covenant declares in approval of various acts of the Scottish Parliament, in these words:— VNR 135.2

” ... do condemn all erroneous books and writs concerning erroneous doctrine against the religion presently professed, or containing superstitious rites and ceremonies papistical, ... the home-bringers of them to be punished, ... and ordains the users of them to be punished for the second fault as idolators.” VNR 136.1

The religion “presently professed,” remember, was the Covenanter—the National Reform—religion. And note, all opposition to that religion, in doctrine or in worship, in books or in rites, was to be punished for the second fault as idolatry. What then was the punishment for idolatry? John Knox had already laid down the law on this point, and here it is in his own words and in his own spelling:— VNR 136.2

“None provoking the people to idolatrie oght to be exempted from the punishment of death.... The whole tribes did in eerie dede execute that sharp judgment against the tribe of Benjamin for a lesse offense than for idolatrie. And the same oght to be done wheresoever Christ Jesus and his Evangill [Gospel] is so received in any realme, province or citie that the magistrates and people have solemnly avowed and promised to defend the same, as under King Edward [VI.] of late days was done in England. In such places, I say, it is not only lawful to punish to the death such as labor to subvert the true religion, but the magistrates and people are bound to do so onless they will provoke the wrath of God against themselves.”—Knox’s Works, Laing’s Edition, Vol. 4, pp. 500-515; or Leeky’s History of Rationalism, Vol. 2, pp. 50, 51, note 6. VNR 136.3

For the protection of the religion “presently professed” the covenant further declares of it:— VNR 136.4

“Which by manifold acts of Parliament, all within this realm are bound to profess, to subscribe the articles thereof, to recant all doctrine and errors repugnant to any of the said articles, ... and all magistrates, sheriffs, etc., ... are ordained to search, apprehend, and punish all contraveners; ... that none shall be reputed loyal and faithful subjects to our sovereign Lord or his authority, but be punishable as rebellers and gainstanders of the same, who shall not give their confession and make their profession of the said true religion.” VNR 136.5

Again the Covenant declares that it is the duty of the magistrates to— VNR 137.1

“Maintain the true religion of Jesus Christ.” “And that they should be careful to root out of their empire all heretics and enemies to the true worship of God who shall be convicted by the true Kirk of God of the aforesaid crimes.” VNR 137.2

So much for the “National Covenant or Confession of Faith;” but by this all may understand the meaning of the National Reform declaration that the duty of the nation is “an acknowledgment and exemplification of the duty of national covenanting with” God. VNR 137.3