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For the purpose of securing the necessary constitutional changes for the foregoing objects, the Committee propose that this General Assembly send down to the Presbyteries the following Overtures, viz. :
1. In the Form of Government, chapter x., section 2, after the word Ministers, to insert, "in number not less than five.”
2. In the Form of Government, chapter xii., section 4, to add to the first sentence, at its close, the following words: "and which relate exclusively to the construction of the Constitution, or the trial of a minister for heresy in doctrine."
3. In the Form of Government, chapter xi., at the end of section 4, to add the following sentence: "Every case of the trial of a minister for heresy in doctrine, and all questions relating exclusively to the construction of the Constitution, may be carried by appeal or complaint to the General Assembly; in all other cases or questions the decision of the Synod shall be final."
4. In the Book of Discipline, chapter vii., section 2, to read as follows, viz.: "Every kind of decision which is formed in any church judicatory, except the highest, may be reviewed by a superior judicatory, subject to the limitation of appeals from the Synod as provided in the Form of Government, and may be carried before it in one or the other of the four following ways."
Moreover, it is recommended that the Assembly instruct and order all the Presbyteries, when reconstructed, at their first appointed meeting, to vote directly yea or nay on these several Overtures, and send forthwith an attested copy of their action to the Stated Clerk of the Assembly, who shall keep an accurate account of the same, and report it to the next Assembly.
Finally, your Committee will close their report with a suggestion for the action of the Assembly, which they think would secure greater efficiency and dispatch in their business.
OVERTURES TO THE ASSEMBLY.
As much time is consumed, and the attention of the Assembly distracted with Overtures, and Questions of minor importance, coming up from various quarters, impeding the transaction of business of more general interest, it is recommended that the Assembly order that, hereafter, Bills and Overtures come up only from Synods or Presbyteries; yet that this may not prevent any Committee of Bills and Overtures from bringing before the house, of its own motion, upon a two-thirds vote of
the Committee, any matter which they may deem of sufficient importance to engage the attention of the General Assembly.
After the adoption of this report as amended, arrangements were immediately made for convening the various Synods defined by it. An enabling act, prepared by the Rev. Dr. Hatfield and Hon. William Strong, was also passed, by which the several Synods and the Presbyteries that compose them become the legal successors of those into which the Church was formerly divided. Since the adjournment of the Assembly these Synods have met in conformity with its appointment, and, with the greatest harmony, have performed their part, in turn defining the bounds of the new Presbyteries according to the principles adopted in the report on Reconstruction. It is a remarkable fact that thus, without any friction or dissatisfaction, the number of the Presbyteries has been reduced from two hundred and fifty-nine to one hundred and sixty-five. Most of these are well bounded by geographical lines, so laid down that the convenience of the members of them, and the advantage of the churches composing them, are well secured.
When the Reunion was still in progress, and not yet consummated, the remark was frequently heard that the relation of the THEOLOGICAL SEMINARIES to the General Assembly would give rise to difficult and delicate questions. Some of them were already subject to the Assembly's control; others were under Presbyterial supervision, or that of a Board of Directors. It was feared that the effort to bring them all under one plan of administration satisfactory to the whole Church
would occasion prolonged, perhaps excited discussions. Happily, such fears were not justified by the event. In the Providence of God, at a very early stage of its sessions, the whole matter was brought before the General Assembly, in such a form as seemed to meet the views of all the brethren, and to promise in the future the utmost harmony and success in the management and direction of these Seminaries. The Directors of the Union Theological Seminary, New York, had prepared a memorial, which was read to the Assembly. In this paper they suggest as a rule and plan, that the Board of Directors of each Seminary be authorized to appoint its professors, subject to the veto of the General Assembly. A Memorial appended to the Report of the Directors of Princeton Theological Seminary made request for the same rule, asking also that the Board of Directors of Princeton Seminary have power besides to fill vacancies in their number, subject to the Assembly's veto. In behalf of the Trustees of Auburn and Lane Seminaries, representations were made that their Boards will give most cordial assent to the plan proposed, or to any other plan which the Assembly adopts. In view of these communications, the Rev. Dr. Musgrave, in the course of some remarks upon the Report of the Directors of Princeton Seminary, proceeded to say:
Will you allow me to add, that this is an additional cause for congratulation and for thanksgiving to God [applause]; that even these questions of the Theological Seminaries, which we thought the most difficult to adjust and that would be likely to give us the greatest trouble, are thus amicably adjusted by their respective Boards of Directors. [Applause.] Is it not another proof that the whole Reunion is from God, and that we
have the earnest of perpetual unity and harmony not only, but of increased efficiency in every department of our work? [Applause.]
In accordance with these views the Committee on Theological Seminaries reported the following plan and resolutions to the Assembly, which were subsequently adopted:
1. Accepting the offer so generously made by the Directors of the Union Theological Seminary in New York, a Seminary independent hitherto of all direct ecclesiastical control, to invest the General Assembly with the right of a veto in the election of Professors in that institution, this Assembly would invite all those Theological Seminaries not now under the control of the General Assembly, to adopt, at their earliest convenience, the same rule and method, to the end that throughout the whole Presbyterian Church there may be uniform and complete confidence in those intrusted with the training of our candidates for the ministry.
2. That the several Boards of Directors of those Seminaries which are now under the control of the General Assembly shall be authorized to elect, suspend, and displace the Professors of the Seminaries under their care, subject in all cases to the veto of the General Assembly, to whom they shall annually make a full report of their proceedings, and to whom their minutes shall be submitted whenever the Assembly shall require them to be produced. These Boards shall further be authorized to fix the salaries of the Professors, and to fill their own vacancies, subject in all cases to the veto of the General Assembly.
3. Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed by the Assembly to propose such alterations in the plans of the Seminaries now under the control of the Assembly, as shall be deemed necessary to carry into effect the principles above stated, and that said Committee report to this or to the next succeeding Assembly,
4. In case the Board of Directors of any Theological Seminary now under the control of the General Assembly should prefer to retain their present relation to this body, the plan of such Seminary shall remain unaltered.
Passing in review the Assembly's work of Reconstruction, it is not essential to observe as to the record the same order in which the different topics came up for
decision. With reference to all the Boards and Permanent Committees of both the Old and the New School, the Assemblies of 1869, at their adjourned meetings at Pittsburg, raised Joint Committees to combine and consolidate the former organizations, and to report to the General Assembly of 1870. In each case these Committees faithfully discharged their trust, and, with some judicious modifications, their reports were adopted. The great importance of the subject demands an early reference to the plans adopted for HOME MISSIONS and for FOREIGN MISSIONS. The Board of Domestic Missions of the Old School, and the Permanent Committee on Home Missions of the New School, each presented its Annual Report to the Assembly. A Standing Committee, of which the Chairman was of the late Old School branch, carefully considered these documents. In reviewing them in its report and resolutions, this Committee spoke in terms of approbation with reference to both organizations, commending the efficiency and competency of their management. The following extract from the Report of the New School Permanent Committee on Home Missions was especially approved, as well calculated to indicate the proposed future policy of the new Board in the Reunited Church:
There was an obvious propriety that we should insure those whom we sent into the field against suffering. We first guaranteed them $600 and their necessary travelling expenses, and as prices advanced we were compelled to advance the rate per annum $200 more. We found in the field at first many who, for want of adequate support, could not give themselves wholly to their ministry. Some were teachers, many were farmers, and in consequence many of them were non-resident stated