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V. Barks, Henry Mathews, James G. Hamner, D.D., George W. Hutchins, Isaac W. K. Handy, Peachy R. Grattan, Fincelius R. Gray, Thomas H. Cleland, Michael S. Shuck, M. D., Archer C. Dickerson, Gideon S. White, John B. Logan, Robert P. Rhea, William E. Caldwell, George Painter, Frederick A. Ross, D.D., Charles M. Atkinson, Robert M. Morrison, Robert McLain, and Ilon. John F. Chester.—26.
Non Liquet.— Thomas J. Shepherd and S. Storrs Howe.—2.
Rev. James G. Hamner, D.D., presented, for himself and others, a Protest, which, having been read, was ordered to be placed upon the Minutes, and is as follows:
We, the undersigned Southern Ministers and Ruling Elders, protest against the present decision of the General Assembly.
We protest--Because, while past General Assemblies have asserted, that the system of Slavery is wrong, they have heretofore affirmed, that the slaveholder was so controlled by State laws, obligations of guardianship, and humanity, that he was, as thus situated, without censure or odium as the · master. This averment in the testimony of past Assemblies has so far satisfied the South, as to make it unnecessary to do mrore than protest against the mere anti-slavery part of such testimony.
We protesu then, now, That the present act of the Assembly is such an assertion of the sin of Slavery, as degrades the whole Southern Churchan assertion without authority from the word of God, or the organic law of the Presbyterian body.
We protest, that such action is, under present conditions, the virtual exscinding of the South, whatever be the motives of those who vote the deed.
We protest, that such indirect excision is unrighteous, oppressive, uncalled for—the exercise of usurped power-destructive of the unity of our branch of the Church-hurtful to the North and the South-and adding to the peril of the Union of these United States. FRED. A. Ross,
Robr. P. RHEA,
F. R. Gray,
M. S. Suuck,
W. E. CALDWELL,
E. A. CARSON,
R. M. MORRISON,
A. J. Modie,
PEACHY R. GRATTAN,
Thomas H. CLELAND,
Arcuer C. DICKERSON.
The Committee appointed to prepare an answer to the protest of Rev. James G. Ilamner, D.D., and others, presented a report, which was adopted, and is as follows:
ANSWER TO THE PROTEST. In reply to the protest against the action taken by the Assembly on the subject of Slavery, the Assembly make the following remarks:
1. The present action of the Assembly on this subject is in perfect harmony with the testimonies of former Assemblies, and consists chiefly in a reäffirmation of those testimonies. The General Assembly has never “affirmed that the slaveholder was so controlled by State laws, obligations of guardianship and humanity, that he was, as thus situated, without censure or odium as the master.” *But it has conceded that exceptional cases exist, such as are defined in the Resolutions of the Assembly of 1850, and approved by this Assembly.
2. We see nothing in the present action which is unconstitutional, or which “degrades,” or even reflects upon, any portion of the Southern Church, which still abides by the old doctrine of the Presbyterian Church in relation to this subject.
3. With respect to the complaint, “that such action is, under present conditions, the virtual exscinding of the South,” the Assembly observe, that no such excision is intended, and we cannot perceive that it is in any wise involved even by remote implication. We have simply reaffirmed the established views of the Presbyterian Church on the subject of Slayery, and distinctly condemned the new and counter doctrines which have been declared and defended by some within our bounds.
4. With regard to the allegation, that our action in this case is “unrighteous, oppressive, uncalled for,” usurpatory and destructive of great interests, we need only say, that it rests on the groundless assumption that this action is an “indirect excision" of the South. If our Southern brethren shall break the unity of the Church, because we stand by our former position, as in duty bound, the responsibility for the consequences will not rest on the Assembly.
A portion of the Southern delegation to the Assembly subsequently issued the following call for a Convention to be held in Washington City. The place of meeting was afterwards changed to Richmond, Va.
ADDRESS TO THE MINISTERS AND CHURCHES IN CONNECTION WITH THE
GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH. Dear BRETHREN :-The undersigned, members of the General Assembly now in session in Cleveland, Ohio, are constrained to address you with
* This paper as drawn at first, contained the words : " It has only conceded, that certain exceptional cases may exist,” &c. On motion of Judge Allison and Orlando Hastings, Esq., this expression was modified as we print it. But it appears that in some way the original paper was placed in the hands of the Stated Clerk, who has printed the paper as originally drawn, but not as passed by the Committee. We make this statement on the authority of Judge Allison, and not with the intention of blaming any one. EDITORS.
reference to the state of our beloved Church, and to indicate the course which should be pursued by all who adhere to the principles of our Constitution, as interpreted by its framers, and as practically acknowledged during the almost entire period of our history as a Church.
The action of the present Assembly on the subject of slavery, especially when considered in connection with the spirit and manifest purpose of several of the Western Synods, has impressed us with the belief that peace and harmony can no longer prevail amongst us—that the Assembly, as at present constituted, instead of being a bond of union between different sections of the Church, will continue to be the theatre of strife and discord; and that the glory of God, the welfare of our churches, and the good of the country wemand a separation of the discordant elements, and the existence of another Assembly, in which the agitation of the slavery question will be unknown.
We had hoped that our brethren who have been disposed to introduce this subject into the General Assembly would ere this have been convinced that no good could result to the Church from this agitation—that it was alienating brethren of a common Christian faith, and was calculated to render the condition of the slave more undesirable and to sunder the ties that bind our Union together. In this regard we have been sadly disappointed. In consequence of the political agitation of the subject, and of the pressure brought to bear upon them by Congregational churches holding the most ultra abolition sentiments, many of our Western Presbyteries have become more urgent in demanding progressive action of the Assembly. They have not been satisfied with the past declarations of the Assembly. They have desired the Assembly to express its views of the sin of slaveholding so clearly, that they can be made the basis of discipline by the courts of the Church. This action has now been virtually taken by the Assembly. It has avowed that the relation of master and servant-which necessarily involves the idea of property in the services of the latter is a sin in the sight of God, an offence in the sense in which the term is used in the Constitution of the Church. This declaration has been made, although confessedly there is not the most remote allusion to slaveholding in our standards, and also with the knowledge of the fact that when our constitution was adopted, twelve out of thirteen States were slaveholding States, and many of those who composed the Assembly of 1789, if not slaveholders themselves, were the representatives of Presbyteries in which were churches whose members were slaveholders. We regard this action of the General Assembly as a palpable violation of the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the Church. The principle involved in it, if carried into practice, would convert the highest judicatory of the Church into an ecclesiastical despotism as tyrannical as that which has distinguished the Church of Rome. It makes the Assembly not only the interpreter of law in an irregular way, but also the supreme legislature of the Church-a position which has been always repudiated by the Presbyterian Church.
Apart, therefore, from the disastrous consequence resulting from the
agitation of the subject of slavery in the General Assembly_destroying, as it does, our peace, keeping us in a state of excitement unfavorable to spiritual growth, and paralyzing our efforts to advance the cause of the Redeemer through the channel of our admirable system of governmentwe consider that the Assembly has so far departed from the Constitution of the Church as to render our adherence to it undesirable and impossible. Having protested repeatedly against this agitation, and finding that our brethren are determined to continue it, we have deliberately and prayerfully come to the conclusion that, however painful it may be to us, the good of the Church and of the country require a separation from them. We shall hold our brethren who have disturbed our peace, by the introduction of this vexed question in our judicatories, as alone responsible for the consequences of this divison.
With these convictions as to the necessity of a separation from our once united and beloved Zion, the only question that remains for us now to settle pertains to the mode of separation. The undersigned are satisfied that but one course is left to us-and that is to invite all Constitutional Presbyterians in the land who are opposed to the agitation of slavery in the General Assembly to unite in an organization in which this subject shall be utterly eschewed. We do not restrict our invitation to the Southern Churches. We wish to have a National Church-that is, a Church, the constituent parts of which will come from every section of the Union. Holding to the same Confession of Faith, we shall have a common basis as to doctrine and government-and an understanding that, however we may differ in our views respecting slavery, the subject is never to be introduced into the Assembly either by Northern or Southern men, unless, indeed, judicial cases are brought up regularly from the lower courts. In the judgment of the undersigned, this course is our only alternative. There is so much of the same abolition spirit pervading other Churches that adhere to the same standards of faith, that we could not expect peace on this subject by uniting with them. We are persuaded that, although the question may be suppressed in their judicatories for awhile, the abolition spirit exists to such an extent as to threaten their dismemberment. The result may be that the disturbing elements of the different branches of the Presbyterian Church may be united in one body, and that the conservative portions of the same may ultimately be brought together, and thus prove more efficient in promoting the cause of the Redeemer, and in diffusing through the land a truly national spirit. At present, however, the union of these Churches would not afford relief to those who are wearied of this slavery agitation. We are desirous of forming an organization where we shall not be liable to another division from this exciting subject.
The undersigned, therefore, would invite all Presbyterians, from all sections of the country, to meet in Convention in the city of Washington, on the 27th day of August, 1857, for the purpose of consultation and organizing a General Assembly in which, it will be distinctly understood, the subject of slavery will not be introduced. We propose this course, instead of organizing au Assembly at once, as being due to the Presbyteries we represent. We would suggest that the Presbyteries be called together as soon as possible ; and that, whilst the Presbyteries appoint their delegates to the Convention in the usual proportion, it is desirable that as many ministers and elders should attend the Convention as can do so. We suggest, also, that in case any of the Presbyteries desiring to be connected with this new Assembly, should find it impossible to be represented in the Convention, it would be important that the Convention should be informed of their action.
Praying that God may overrule the distractions of Zion for His own glory, and that we may be guided in this crisis of our history by His unerring counsel, we subscribe ourselves your brethren in Christ, FREDERICK A. Ross, D.D.,
MICHAEL S. SAUCK, GEORGE PAINTER,
Isaac W. K. Handy,
James G. HAMNER, D.D.,
Peachy R. GRATTAN,
George W. HUTCHINS,
ELIJAH A. Carson,
FINCELIUS R. GRAY. The undersigned, though not members of the General Assembly now in session in Cleveland, have been present during its discussion of slavery. Being fully convinced that there is no prospect of the cessation of this agitation in the Assembly, and that the action taken is a violation of the Constitution of the Church, we cordially unite in the above invitation. A. H. H. Boyd, D.D.,
GEORGE M. CRAWFORD. Church EXTENSION. RELATIONS OF THE CAURCH WITH THE
AMERICAN HOME MISSIONARY SOCIETY. The Permanent Committee on Church Extension reported, through their Secretary pro tem., that they had employed fifteen missionaries during the year, confining themselves within the limits marked out for them by the Assembly. The resources of the year were only $5,066 59, but every application deemed peculiarly urgent and important has been met. It is believed, the Committee remark, that there never has been 80 small an amount of funds invested, so as to produce a greater amount of good. The report was referred to the Standing Committee on the subject. The subject of the relations of the Church to the American Home Missionary Society, was also considered by the same Committee. The report of the Standing Committee presented through their Chairman, Rev. Dr. PATTERSON, was unanimously adopted, with but slight debate, as follows: