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spirit of forbearance and love prevented difficulty, and by degrees has won nearly all to a hearty support of the church's own agencies.
The question, how many boards there should be, has sometimes been agitated. It has been well-nigh universally agreed, that the work of foreign missions, that of domestic missions, that of education, and that of publication, should be committed each to a separate agency; but many have thought that the Boards of Domestic Missions and Education might, between them, take the whole work now confided to that of Church Extension, to the Committee on Freedmen, and, in the matter of disabled ministers and their families, to the Trustees of the General Assembly. The location of different boards has, from time to time, been warmly discussed; but for the most part the very sensible idea has prevailed, that the northern and eastern portions of the church, as able to contribute more largely by far than the southern and western portions, should not be discouraged from devising liberal things, by having the application of their charities taken too much out of their own hands. The operations of all the boards, at times, and particularly, in several instances, those of the Boards of Domestic Missions, Education, and Publication, have been subjected to searching inquiry, with the result, occasionally, of modification and improvement, but al ways of demonstrating the general ability and fidelity with which their affairs have been managed, and of re commending them to increased confidence in the church. Said a speaker, several years ago, on this point, "The boards breathe more freely after the Assembly ad journs " -more freely, the ordeal passed, and the sub
jects of it "found unto praise and honor," yet not left without a wholesome sense of responsibility. Besides, uneasy spirits must have an outlet. Fretting over the imperfections which the best efforts of our fallen humanity, and our most effective institutions, cannot always escape, they are ready at any time for radical transformation or revolution, forgetting that incessant change may itself be one of the most ruinous of evils, and that no plan can even seem perfect, unless because untried. The church, so far as her boards have been concerned, has paid little regard to visionary perfec tionists, and has steadily maintained these agencies, as the right hand of her power.
Among them all, none has held a warmer place in her affections than the Board of Foreign Missions. Its receipts for a year, as reported in 1869, had exceeded three hundred and thirty-eight thousand dollars. As to the increase of means, its prosperity, for an equal length of time, has far transcended that of the American Board, so honorably distinguished for its success. And wherever the two have labored in the same field, side by side, or in fields that can justly be compared, the results prove the Presbyterian Board to be, saying the least, not one whit behind the other in the evidences of God's blessing. The number of its church-members, on foreign missionary ground, has doubled in about five years; and average pastors at home are often compelled to mourn that they have been less successful, in our Christian land, than average foreign missionaries in the dark places of the earth.
To close this brief historical sketch, there remains but to present a simple outline, from an Old School
point of view, of the protracted negotiations that have resulted in the consolidation of the two branches of the Presbyterian Church. And here, the reader's attention will be directed to points for the most part outside of the ground occupied by the full account of the reunion, from other pens, in subsequent chapters. The Old School Assembly, in 1846, courteously declined an invitation to unite with that of the New School in celebrating the Lord's Supper, doubtless mainly on the ground, that though the great lawsuit before mentioned had been discontinued some three and a half years, former differences and conflicts were yet very fresh in thought and feeling; and each body yet expressly claimed to be the Presbyterian Church; each, too, regarding the other as making herein a sinful claim. With the language of mutual recrimination upon their lips, ought they to sit down together at the Lord's Table? In 1850, the Assembly refused to take any action upon the subject of reunion. When the rebellion commenced, however, causes similar to those which speedily brought the two branches together at the South, began to operate powerfully at the North. The common agitating excitements, alarms, perils, and sufferings of a struggle for the nation's life, drew Old and New School men into closer and more frequent communion, and the rather because of their near relationship and family resemblance. Yet, in 1862, the Old School Assembly still declined to talk of reunion, though it unanimously agreed to open a correspondence by delegates. No doubt this correspondence was a great advance toward organic unity. Nothing, however, more definite was accomplished, although the
subject was brought every year to the notice of both Assemblies, until, in 1866, the first joint committee was appointed to confer upon "the desirableness and practicability of reunion." The earliest plan proposed by this committee was by no means satisfactory to the Old School. Various objections were made to it, but the "doctrinal basis" was the grand difficulty. Be sides, the major part yet doubted the fact of that reasonable agreement in doctrine, without which the two branches could not wisely unite.
Now, there met in Philadelphia, the Presbyterian National Union Convention of November, 1867, and gave a very perceptible impulse to the whole movement. The hope which it excited of the consolidation. of five or more Presbyterian bodies; the impression that it gave of a general feeling, a general feeling, soon to be irresistible, in favor of reunion; and the warmth of enthusiasm which it kindled, were very influential to turn opponents into friends of the measure. The convention was thought by many to have produced an improved "doctrinal basis," which was therefore incorporated into the joint committee's plan. Still, as before, the Old School Church was not satisfied. Yet a few months later, upon a new basis, the reunion was decreed by such an overwhelming vote of the presbyteries, that the feeble minority could but bow in humble submission to the evident will of the church.
To explain all this, some, on both sides, have sup posed a relaxation of doctrinal strictness in the Old School body, of which, however, there has not been the slightest evidence. What single act of the Assembly, what disposition manifested by any considerable num
ber of the presbyteries, has indicated such a thing! The very reverse is too apparent to be questioned. In express words, the Assembly has reaffirmed all its old testimonies against error. And, on the very ground of apprehended doctrinal disagreement, and of dissatisfaction with the doctrinal basis, the church hesitated, up to the last moment, to sanction the reunion.
But the plan of 1869 was regarded by the presbyteries generally as presenting the safest basis possible in point of doctrine the basis of "the standards pure and simple." It was the basis with which those who loved the standards most were evidently the best pleased. In fact, past negotiations had proved it to be the only basis offering the least promise of safety. And, again, from every quarter had come to the Old School body multiplied assurances, in most influential forms, that the New School, not as to every individual, but as a church, had become, and were becoming, more orthodox than formerly; nay, were now as strictly conformed to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms as the Old School themselves. Such assurances were given in the joint committee to its Old School members. The unimpeachable orthodoxy of the present theological professors in the New School seminaries was avouched with the strongest confidence. specimen of the declarations made on this general subject, take the following from the able pen of Dr. Henry B. Smith, professor in the Union Theological Seminary of New York. He says it is notorious, "that the New School is thoroughly organized as a Presbyterian body, having renounced the vain attempt to combine incongruous elements in its system of church order, and no