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HISTORICAL REVIEW OF THE CHURCH (OLD SCHOOL BRANCH).
BY THE REV. SAMUEL MILLER, D.D.
What proposed. - World's annals. - Grounds of division. Reconstruction. Relative numbers. Controversy and Revival. - Lawsuit. - Advantages of the Old School. Congregationalism.-Theological history.Church-boards. - Rights of ruling Elders. - Westminster Assembly and Free Church of Scotland. - Slavery. - Theological Seminaries. — Martyr Missionaries. Revival. - New School South. - Southern opinions. Rebellion. Assembly of 1861.-Old School South. Further testimonies. Incident in 1861.-Defence of the Assembly's measures.—Declaration and Testimony. - Action thereupon and defence of that action. Result.-Invitations to Southern Churches. Review of warmeasures.- Miscellaneous events and acts.- Proposed changes in the Standards. Literary activity. - Prosperity. - Church-boards. Board of Foreign Missions. -Reunion: its history and ground.
ALMOST a third of a century has elapsed since the Old School and the New School, opposing parties in the Presbyterian Church of these United States, separated, after long controversy, and became distinct communions. At length, happily if the hopes and prayers of many should be fulfilled, they have been restored to organic unity. A concise history of the Old School Church, during the period of separation, it is proposed to give in the first few pages of this volume. It will be well for the reunited body, if its later party names, like the earlier ones, Old Side and New Side, should speedily die away from the current, especially from the emotional, language of Presbyterians; though they must forever survive in history, and the historical use
of them cannot, with reason, be deemed invidious. Of course, in what is written, at this early day, from a point of view in either school, the warm glow of interest and of a reasonable partiality will be looked for, rather than the clearer but colder light of unbiassed indiffer
This period of about thirty-two years has been a very momentous one in the annals both of the church at large and of the world. It has been marked by extraordinary progress in the arts and sciences: by wonderful improvements in domestic, agricultural, and manufacturing machinery; by brilliant discoveries in the depths of old ocean, in the stellar universe, and in the all-pervading laws of the physical forces; by the practical introduction of intercontinental steam navigation and of the magnetic telegraph, linking closely together points the farthest asunder round the almost girdled globe. Its record of human enterprise tells of adventurous expeditions, on one side far toward the North Pole, on the other into the tropical mysteries of interior Africa; of the ocean cable, of the Suez canal, and of the Pacific railroad; of the close earth, in regions wide apart, greedily disembowelled, and yielding up unheard-of treasures. These years have wit nessed political changes, many of them of the greatest importance. The United States have gained by conquest, justly or unjustly, from Mexico, a large extension of the national domain. A war of almost unparalleled magnitude has saved our union, emancipated and enfranchised four millions of slaves. The Emperor of the French, attempting to interfere with our American system, has been disconcerted by a frown, and in wis
dom dearly purchased has abandoned the adventure. In Europe, France has tried a republic, but fallen back under the imperial Napoleonic dynasty; Russia has been humbled at Sebastopol, but has greatly advanced in civilization and power, and emancipated millions of serfs; the larger part of Italy has recovered itself from arbitrary rule, and the temporal despotism of the Pope is tottering-perhaps to its fall; Prussia has suddenly, by warlike achievement, become one of the great powers, and has well-nigh realized the pregnant idea of German unity; Austria has been wonderfully modernized; and Spain, having exiled her royal house, stands hesitating between a republic and a constitutional monarchy. In benighted Africa, Liberia has become an independent state, with free Christian institutions modelled exactly after our own. In slumberous Asia, the dense millions of China and Japan have been awakened to intercourse with the busy, outside world: and over those of India, Great Britain, through much blood and suffering, has reasserted her power, which God seems to overrule to such poor idolaters and wor shippers of the false Prophet for good. To the Church of Christ this period has been made specially interesting by the decline of rationalism in Germany, but its spread in Great Britain and the United States; by the decay of Romanism in Papal, but its revival in Protestant, countries, and by striking indications that its superstition, iniquity, and blasphemy are almost full, seen in the mingled craft and madness with which the machinery of conferences and councils has been restored, modern civilization and evangelical religion denounced and attacked, and the monstrous dogmas of
the immaculate conception of Mary and the infalli bility of the Pope unblushingly promulgated; by the discovery of the more complete of the two oldest known manuscripts of the Greek New Testament; by the exodus of the Free Church of Scotland; by a spirit of union and communion freshly and extensively awakened among Christians; by wide openings of the Papal and Pagan world to the gospel, its more abundant success, and the wonderful outpourings of the Holy Spirit, by which, in many lands, it has been made indeed the power of God unto salvation.
For obvious reasons, the division of seventeen years between the Old Side and the New Side of the last century was of shorter duration than that just now healed. The amount of transient feeling excited was, perhaps, in the two cases, nearly equal feeling enough to rend the church in twain. But much the more important have been the differences, as to doctrine and church order alike, which have protracted the separation of the Old and New Schools. And without a general idea of these differences, we should hardly be able to understand the long continuance of the division; the history meanwhile of either school; the negotiations which have resulted in reunion; its final terms; or the prospects of the reunited church.
Affinities and a fraternal confidence which unhappily time has not increased, between Presbyterians and Congregationalists, had led to an admixture of Congre gationalism in Presbyterian judicatories. The Old School insisted that this admixture, as unconstitutional, should cease. The New School contended for its toleration and extension. The Old School preferred
strictly ecclesiastical agencies for conducting the missionary and other general evangelistic work of the church, urging, particularly, the establishment of a Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions. The New School desired, in union with Congregationalists, to confide this work to voluntary associations, the foreign part of it to the American Board of Commissioners. Both professed to be Calvinistic and to "receive and adopt the Confession of Faith . . . as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Scriptures;" but they differed seriously in judgment as to what was essential to that system, and, therefore, what departures from the formulary were consistent with such a profession. The Old School contended that certain errors utterly inconsistent with it were prevalent in the church; for the purification of which they endeavored to visit with discipline several prominent ministers charged with these errors. The New School argued that some of the views alleged to be erroneous were reconcilable with the Calvinistic system; denied that the others were really entertained by the parties accused, or were seriously prevalent; and resisted the discipline proposed. This difference as to doctrine the Old School uniformly considered and treated as by far the most serious difference between the parties.
The Old School majority in the General Assembly of 1837 having disowned four synods, as so far Congregationalized that they could not be any longer acknowledged as Presbyterian bodies, the New School commissioners to the Assembly of 1838, refused to recognize an organization of this judicatory which excluded representatives from the disowned constituency,