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On motion of Rev. Dr. Budington, of New York, it was voted that the Rev. Dr. Massie, who formerly visited this country, and has been known as our stanch friend in trial, be invited to sit in this Council as an honorary member, on the same footing as the other brethren from England.
The Moderator welcomed the delegates from abroad; and addresses of response were made by Rev. Dr. Vaughan, Rev. Dr. Raleigh, and Rev. Dr. Massie, of England, and Rev. Dr. Wilkes, of Canada.
The Committee on Nomination reported nominations to membership in the committees assigned to them, as follows, which report was adopted, and the committees so appointed :
Business Committee - Rev. A. H. Quint, Massachusetts; Rev. S. Wolcott, D. D., Ohio; Rev. B. Labaree, D. D., Vermont; Dea. Philo Carpenter, Mlinois ; Dea. S. F. Drury, Michigan.
Committee on Devotional Exercises — Rev. E. N. Kirk, D. D., of Massachusetts ; Rev. W. Deloss Love, of Wisconsin ; Rev. Asa Turner, of Iowa; Rev. George E. Adams, D. D., of Maine ; Dea. Daniel H. Parker, of New Hampshire.'
Committee on Finance — Dea. Charles Stoddard, of Massachusetts; Henry C. Bowen, Esq., of New York; E B. Preston, Esq., of Connecticut; Douglass Putnam, Esq., of Ohio; Dea. Moses Pettingill, of Illinois.
Committee on Printing - Rev. J. B. Miles, of Massachusetts; Rev. J. C. Holbrook, D. D., of New York; Dea. E. F. Duren, of Maine.
The Business Committee reported the following recommendations, viz.:
(1) That the time from eleven A. M. to half past eleven A. M. be daily devoted to devotional exercises and singing.
(2) That the contracts made by the Committee of Arrangements with phonographic and other reporters be ratified by the Council.
(3) That the reports originating with committees outside of the Council be referred to special committees immediately on their acceptance by the Council, and without debate on their merits; all debate to take place when these special committees report to the Council.
This report was accepted, and its provisions adopted.
THIRD DAY; FRIDAY, JUNE 16, 9 A. M.
Council was opened with prayer by the Moderator.
1. That they have added to the roll the names of all delegates who have presented credentials since their last report.
2. That they recommend that the chairmen of committees appointed to present special reports to this Council preparatory to business, who are not members of the body, be invited to sit as honorary members, including Rev. J. E. Roy, who brings a document from the General Association of Illinois by its special order.
3. That application has been made to them to admit a delegate appointed by a Church which was omitted in the letters-missive sent to its neighboring churches (and thus had no opportunity to act with them in conference ); and that the committee, while they perceive the injury caused by the emission, do not consider the case as within their province to redress such injury, and therefore report the case to the Council.
The report was accepted in its first section.
The second was amended by enlarging it so as to admit members (as well as the chairmen) of committees presenting special reports, and of the local committee of arrangements, to honorary membership with the Council.
On motion of Prof. Harris, of Maine, action on the third section was indefinitely postponed
Rev. Dr. Dutton moved a reconsideration of this motion of indefinite postponement, and the motion was declared lost.
This decision was doubted, and a count was made; ninety-four voting for reconsideration, and one hundred and twenty-six against the same. So the motion was not reconsidered, and action was indefinitely postponed.
The Business Committee recommended that to-morrow, June 17, be set apart as the time recommended by the preliminary committee as a special service of devotion for the acknowledgement of the marvellous and the merciful dealings of Almighty God with the nation in connection with the wår, and for supplicating a gracious dispensation of the Spirit of God upon the land, that our restored national unity may be consecrated in righteousness, and in the peace and joy of the Holy Ghost; and that the invitation from the First Church in Charlestown, to hold service in their meeting-house on Harvard Hill, be accepted, and that the Council meet meet there at three o'clock, P. M.
This report was referred to the Committee on Devotional Exercises.
An invitation from the Committee of Arrangements to visit Forefather's Rock at Plymouth, on such day as the Council may be pleased to designate, was accepted by the Council.
His Excellency J. G. Smith, of Vermont, resigned his place on the Committee of Nomination, being compelled to retire from the further sessions of the Council on account of ill health ; and Rev. C. E. Ferrin, of Vermont, was appointed to
All the vacancy
It was voted that a committee be appointed to prepare and report resolutions on the state of the country.
It was voted, that hereafter the Nominating Committee have the power to appoint such a number of members upon each committee as may seem to them expedient.
Rev. Theodore Monod, of Paris, France, addressed the Council, as a delegate from the Union of the Evangelical Churches of France; and was followed by Rev. John Thomas, delegate of the Congregational churches in Wales.
On motion of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, of New York, the following resolution was adopted, viz.:
Whereas, The attitude of various religious bodies in Europe toward the United States, during the past five years, requires a careful discrimination and statement, therefore
Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed to prepare a suitable reply of this Council to the delegates from foreign bodies who have been heard.
Rev. Joseph P. Thompson, D. D., chairman of the committee appointed to report a Declaration of Faith, then read the report of that committee.
REPORT ON DECLARATION OF FAITH.
The committee appointed by the preliminary conference to prepare a Declaration of Faith to be submitted to the Council, respectfully report:
That, in the light of the discussions of that conference upon the expediency of such a Declaration, and also of the general principles of our polity, they could not regard it as
their function to prepare a Confession of Faith to be imposed by act of this, or of any other body, upon the churches of the Congregational order. “ It was the glory of our fathers, that they heartily professed the only rule of their religion, from the very first, to be the Holy Scriptures;"and particular churches have always exercised their liberty in “confessions drawn up in their own forms."? And such has been the accord of these particular confessiðns, one with another, and with the Scriptures, that we may to-day, repeat, with thankfulness, the words of the fathers of the Savoy Confession, two centuries ago : while," from the first, every, or at least the generality, of our churches have been, in a manner, like so many ships — though holding forth the same general colors — launched singly, and sailing apart and alone in the vast ocean of these tumultuous times, and have been exposed to every wind of doctrine,' under no other conduct than the Word and Spirit," ... yet " let all acknowledge that God hath ordered it for his high and greater glory, in that his singular care and power should have so watched over each of these, as that all should be found to have steered their course by the same Chart, and to have been bound for one and the same Port; and that the same holy and blessed Truths of all sorts, which are current and warrantable amongst all the other churches of Christ in the world, are found to be our Lading."
Whatever the diversities of metaphysical theology apparent in these various Confessions, they yet, with singular unanimity, identify the faith of the Congregational churches • with the body of Christian doctrine known as Calvinistic; and hence such Confessions as that of the Westminster divines, and that of the Savoy Synod, have been accredited among these churches as general symbols of faith.
It has not appeared to the committee expedient to recommend that this Council should disturb this “variety in unity” — as Cotton Mather happily describes it — by an attempted uniformity of statement in a Confession formulating each doctrine in more recent terms of metaphysical theology. It seemed better to characterize in a compre
the doctrines held in common by our churches, than thus to individualize each in a theological formula. The latter course might rather disturb the unity that now exists amid variety. Moreover, little could be gained in this respect beyond what we already possess in the ancient formulas referred to, which, being interpreted in the spirit in which they were conceived, answer the end of a substantial unity in doctrine, and have withal the savor of antiquity and the proof of use.
In the language of the Preface to the Savoy Declaration, a Confession is “to be looked upon but as a meet or fit medium or means whereby to express a common faith and salvation, and no way to be made use of as an imposition upon any. Whatever is of force or constraint in matters of this nature, causes them to degenerate from the name and nature of Confessions, and turns them from being Confessions of Faith into exactions and impositions of Faith!"4 Yet a common Confession serves the important purpose. the "neglect” of which the Savoy fathers sought to remedy - of making manifest our unity in doctrine, and of “holding out common lights to others whereby to know where we are.” 5
With these views, as the result of prolonged and careful deliberation, the committee unanimously recommend that the Council should declare, by reference to historical and venerable symbols, the faith as it has been maintained among the Congregational churches from the beginning; and also that it should set forth a testimony on behalf of these
1 Preface to the Confession adopted at Saybrook, Conn., 1708.
churches, for the Word of Truth now assailed by multiform and dangerous errors; and for this end, they respectfully submit the following
RECITAL AND DECLARATION, When the churches of New England assembled in a general Synod at Cambridge, in 1648, they declared their assent, “ for the substance thereof,” to the Westminster Confession of Faith. When again these churches convened in a general Synod at Boston, in 1680, they declared their approval (with slight verbal alterations) of the doctrinal symbol adopted by a Synod of the Congregational churches in England, at London, in 1658, and known as the “ Savoy Confession,” which in doctrine is almost identical with that of the Westminster Assembly. And yet again, when the churches in Connecticut met in council at Saybrook in 1708, they “owned and consented to "the Savoy Confession as adopted at Boston, and offered this as a public symbol of their faith.
Thus, from the beginning of their history, the Congregational churches in the United States have been allied in doctrine with the Reformed churches of Europe, and especially of Great Britain. The eighth article of the “ Heads of Agreement,” established by the Congregational and Presbyterian ministers in England in 1692, and adopted at Saybrook in 1708, defines this position in these words: “ As to what appertains to soundness of judgment in matters of faith, we esteem it sufficient that a church acknowledge the Scriptures to be the Word of God, the perfect and only rule of faith and practice, and own either the doctrinal part of those commonly called the Articles of the Church of England, or the Confession or Catechisms, shorter or larger, compiled by the Assembly at Westminster, or the Confession agreed on at the Savoy, to be agreeable to the said rule."
And now, when, after the lapse of two centuries, these churches are again convened in a General Council at their primitive and historical home, it is enough for the first of those ends enumerated by the Synod at Cambridge - to wit, “the maintenance of the faith entire within itself” — that this Council, referring to these ancient symbols as embodying, for substance of doctrine, the constant faith of the churches here represented, declares its adherence to the same, as being “ well and fully grounded upon the Holy Scripture,"6 which is “ the only sufficient and invariable rule of religion.” 7
But having in view, also, the second end of a public confession enumerated by the Cambridge Synod, to wit, “ the holding forth of unity and harmony both amongst and with other churches,” we desire to promote a closer fellowship of all Christian denominations in the faith and work of the gospel, especially against popular and destructive forms of unbelief which assail the foundations of all religion, both natural and revealed; which know no God but nature; no Depravity but physical malformation, immaturity of powers, or some incident of outward condition; no Providence but the working of material causes and of statistical laws; no Revelation but that of consciousness; no Redemption but the elimination of evil by a natural sequence of suffering; no Regeneration but the natural evolution of a higher type of existence; no Retribution but the necessary consequences of physical and psychological laws.
As a Testimony, in common with all Christian believers, against these and kindred errors, we deem it important to make a more specific declaration of the following truths :
There is one personal God, who created all things ; who controls the physical universe, the laws whereof he has established ; and who, holding all events within his knowledge, rules over men by his wise and good providence and by his perfect moral law.
God, whose being, perfections, and government are partially made known to us through
o Preface to the Savoy Confession, as adopted at Saybrook in 1708. 7 Ditto.
the testimony of his works and of conscience, has made a further revelation of himself in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments - -a revelation attested at the first by supernatural signs, and confirmed through all the ages since by its moral effects upon the individual soul and upon human society; a revelation authoritative and final. In this revelation God has declared himself to be the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and he has manifested his love for the world through the incarnation of the Eternal Word for man's redemption, in the sinless life, the expiatory sufferings and death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour; and also in the mission of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, for the regeneration and sanctification of the souls of
The Scriptures, confirming the testimony of conscience and of history, declare that mankind are universally sinners, and are under the righteous condemnation of the law of God; that from this state there is no deliverance, save through “ repentance toward God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ ;” and that there is a day appointed in which God will raise the dead, and will judge the world, and in which the issues of his moral government over men shall be made manifest in the awards of eternal life and eternal death, according to the deeds done in the body.
JOSEPH P. THOMPSON,
GEORGE P. FISHER,
A half-hour was spent in devotional exercises.
Business being resumed, Rev. S. Wolcott, D. D., of Ohio, moved that the report presented by Dr. Thompson be accepted, and referred to a committee, with instructions to consider the propriety of submitting to the Council a declaration of the common faith of our churches, and, if thought advisable, to report such a declaration. And it was so voted.
The Committee on Devotional Exercises reported through Dr. Kirk, chairman; which report was accepted and adopted so far as to order that each day's exercises be closed by the singing of the doxology; and that the special service of devotion contemplated by the preliminary meeting at New York City be held in the meeting-house of the First Church in Charlestown to
morrow afternoon, at three o'clock, to continue one hour.
Rev. Dr. Bacon, of Connecticut, chairman of the committee requested to report on Church Polity, reported as follows:
REPORT ON CHURCH POLITY.
To the National Council of Congregational Churches :
FATHERS AND BRETHREN, — In the preliminary conference which made arrangements for this National Council, the undersigned and the Rev. Dr. Storrs of Cincinnati, now in England, were appointed to bring before the Council" the expediency of issuing a statement of Congregational polity.” We, therefore, ask leave to present for the consideration of this venerable assembly, first, the fitness and desirableness of such a measure ; secondly, the principles which ought to determine the character and contents of the document to be issued; thirdly, the kind and degree of authority with which such a document, proceeding from this Council, would be invested; and fourthly, the form of a statement, to be adopted with or without amendment, or to be rejected, as the Council shall see fit.