William Bridge

“You that are weak, and full of doubtings, should go and lean upon those that are strong and have full assurance; and you that have assurance should give the shoulder to those that are weak, and say, Come and lean upon me, and I will be an help unto you. You know how it is with the ivy and the vine; the ivy leans upon the oak and the vine upon the posts or the house side; the ivy and the vine do not lean upon one another; if the ivy and the vine should come and lean upon one another, what twisting there would be. Both would fall upon the ground; but the ivy leans upon the oak, and the vine upon the posts or the house side. So a weak Christian should go and lean upon a strong Christian; but if one doubter leans upon another doubter, both will fall to the ground

William Bridge, A Lifting Up of the Downcase, p 26

“The truth is that far from thinking that the Southern states in 1861 were guilty of treason or rebellion, I am convinced that they were acting in the plainest possible exercise of constitutional rights, and that the real revolution was entered into by those who endeavored to prevent such plainly guaranteed rights.”

J. Gresham Machen to G. H. Hospers, December 27, 1924, Machen Papers

William Symington gives his own account of his conversion and first communion season…

“In the month of August (1812) I went to Laurieston, in the vicinity of Falkirk, with a Christian friend (Mr. D. Campbell, a worthy elder in the Glasgow congregation, and long after a member of his session) who waited upon the celebration of Christ’s death. His conversation was suitable and his example instructive. From this time I think may date the commencement of my serious impressions about divine things. The circumstances were favourable for thought. I was hearing sermons every day; and when I returned to my chamber there was no companion but my good friend, whose mind was too much occupied about the solemn work in which he was engaged to entertain me with trifles; and in his absence, my Bible. … I meditated. I conversed. My mind was in some degree impressed, and circumstances which we are accustomed to call accidental served to heighten the impression. On Saturday evening, as I approached one of the ministers (Mr. Mason) with whom I was acquainted, he, supposing my object to be the reception of a token, instantly pulled one from his pocket and presented it. I shrank back involuntarily, in such a way as discovered to him his mistake. The circumstance, however, was not without its use. It affected my mind, and created a variety of feelings, and wishes, and resolutions which may better be supposed than delineated. I retired in the evening to an adjoining forest for the purpose of secret devotion. The impression was still lively. My meditations and reflections were overpowering. I fell upon my knees and poured forth to God a fervent prayer that he would open my eyes to see the spiritual import of the sacred ordinance I was soon to witness, give me a personal interest in the glories which it represents, and prepare me in due time for sitting down at his table. After returning to my lodging I talked of it to my friend, who expressed a hope that I would see it my duty soon to join myself to the church by an open and voluntary profession, to which I made some indistinct, evasive reply. Upon my return home, these feelings in some measure passed away, with the immediate cause by which they were excited. But they were keenly revived when, not long after, an elder of the church with which my parents are connected waited upon me and talked of the propriety of making a public accession to the church. I mentioned several things which had weight with me as motives to postpone so serious a step in life. In the course of several conferences which followed, these were overcome, and after carefully examining the history and testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and seriously considering the nature of the sacred ordinance to which actual church membership gave me access, I gave myself away to the Lord in a solemn personal covenant, and thus became a public member of the visible church by openly participating of the Lord’s Supper. This step of my life shall never be forgotten, and as I have hitherto had occasion to reflect upon it with feelings of satisfaction and delight, I earnestly hope they may continue through eternity. My feelings and enjoyments at this period cannot be described, and often since, when contemplating my lethargy and indifference and sinful departure from God, have I recurred to this joyful season with the exclamation of Job in my heart, Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me, when his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness! I could dwell with rapturous delight on this part of my history did not the recollection of sinful back-slidings mingle bitter ingredients into the cup of reflection.”

From the introductory biography of William Symington in his work Messiah the Prince, xxvii found here

From the Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland regarding Covenanting: “Since apostolic times, formal covenanting has occurred either in times of crisis or during revival. The Waldensians ratified their testimony by solemn oath and the Pilgrim Fathers renewed their solemn covenant on several occasions. During the time of the Reformation, there were covenants in Geneva, Hungary, Holland and France. Bands or covenants occurred in Scotland at intervals from 1556, the most famous being the National Covenant of Scotland (1638) and the Solemn League and Covenant of England, Scotland and Ireland (1643). Godly men and women died because of their acceptance of Christ’s royal prerogatives as stated in those covenants, their motto being “For Christ’s Crown and Covenant.”

The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland inherits the convictions and insights of the Scottish Covenanters and upholds the great principles of the Scottish Covenants, covenants which, like those of Old Testament times, were a response to God’s Covenant of Grace. The question immediately arises as to whether such a covenant can bind posterity. There is clear Biblical proof that it can and does. From the stand-point of God’s initiative, this is beyond question. Moses could say with God’s authority “I am making this covenant, with this oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today, in the presence of the Lord our God, but also with those who are not here today.” Much earlier God declared to Abram, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you.” Abram’s descendants were perpetually obligated to covenant obedience primarily by what God had done.

Some of the Old Testament covenant-responses were patently relevant to posterity. Jeremiah charged the Jewish nation with breaking the covenant made with their fathers and gave this as the reason why the land suffered from the Chaldean invasion (Jer.11:1 – 11; 34:13f.). This implied the continuing identity of a people and society and of continuing obligation. So strong is this continuing identity with its consequent inescapable responsibility that God could say to the Israelites almost a millenium after the Exodus, “I covenanted with YOU when YOU came out of Egypt.” Later, Peter was to remind the Jews “You are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers.”

The State, as a divine institution (Rom.13:1) distinct from the Church, is equally under obligation to recognize the Lordship of Christ and in covenant obedience to honour and uphold His laws and protect His Church (Ps.2:8-12; Isa.49:23). God repeatedly asserts His authority over the nations and warns the apostate State of judgment (Ps.9:17; Isa.60:12). He blesses the nations that own Him (Ps.33:12) and breaks in pieces the nations that reject Him. This is the whole tenor of Scripture. Christ is the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” His mediatorial dominion is a fact, whether the world recognizes it or not.

The Biblical principle of covenanting can be applied in any country. The total lordship of Christ should be acknowledged in every area of human activity – politics, business, science, hygiene, medicine, legislation etc. The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland regards the principles of the Scottish Covenants as still binding, unreservedly accepts the obligation imposed by them, and grieves because they have been repudiated by the nation to its incalculable loss. It is imperative that, in the present day, Christians should recognize the duty of covenant-response in the light of God’s ever-abiding Covenant of Grace within which they are confronted with the claims of Christ, their rightful King.”

From the Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland found here

” It is not customary for majorities to secede, especially when they are in the right, but because of the peculiar circumstances of this case, and for the sake of peace, the majority manifested the Christian spirit and withdrew from the brethren who were walking disorderly. While those who abandoned the principles of the Church were ministerially in the minority, the membership throughout the Church was about equally divided. The misguided brethren set up an independent Synod and styled it that of the “Reformed Presbyterian Church.” Since that day the two denominations have been known as the “Old Light” and “New Light,” because the one adheres strenuously to the distinctive principles of the Church as they had always been held, and the other abandoned them in 1833.

Now in order to show which party adheres to thetrue position of the Church, and is thereby entitled to the name, a comparison of the “Terms of Communion” may be helpful.

TERMS OF 1806.

1. An acknowledgment of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God.

2. An acknowledgment that the whole doctrine of the Westminster Confession of Faith, and the Catechisms, Larger and Shorter, are agreeable unto, and founded upon, the Scriptures.

3. An acknowledgment of the divine right of one unalterable form of Church Government and manner of worship—and that these are, for substance, justly exhibited in that form of Church Government and Directory for Worship agreed upon by the assembly of divines at Westminster, as they were received by the Church of Scotland.

4. An acknowledgment that Public Covenanting is an ordinance of God, to be observed by Churches and Nations under the New Testament Dispensation—and that those Vows, namely, that which was entered into by the Church and Kingdom of Scotland, called the National Covenant, and that which was afterwards entered into by fhe three Kingdoms, Scotland, England, and Ireland, and by – the Reformed Churches in those Kingdoms, usually called the Solemn League And Covenant, were entered into in the true spirit of that institution—and that the obligation of these Covenants extends to those who were represented in the taking of them, although removed to this or any other part of the world, in so far as they bind to duties not peculiar to the Church in the British Isles, but applicable in all lands.

5. An approbation of the faithful contendings of the martyrs of Jesus, and of the present Reformed Covenanted Churches in Britain and Ireland, against Paganism, Popery and Prelacy, and against immoral Constitutions of civil government, together with all Erastian tolerations and persecutions which flow therefrom, as containing a noble example for us and our posterity to follow in contending for all divine truth, and in testifying against all contrary evils which may exist in the corrupt Constitutions of either Church or State.

6. An approbation of the doctrines contained in the Declaration and Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, in defence of truth and in opposition to error.

These, together with due subordination in the Lord to the authority of the Reformed Presbytery in North America, and a regular life and conversation, form the bonds of our ecclesiastical union.

Those were the Terms in use by the whole body previous to 1833″

From A History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America by William Glasgow, p 96-98.

“Now the trend of Scottish history, and the Testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church officially adopted in 1806, testify to the fact that Covenanters arc dissenters from immoral Constitutions of Church and State. No candid and intelligent reader can deny this fact. No one thoroughly acquainted with the godly instruction of Covenanters and the true character of the American government could be mistaken as to the attitude of Reformed Presbyterians. Hear the Testimony of 1806:

Since the adoption of the Constitution in 1789, the members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church have maintained a constant testimony against these evils. They have refused to serve in any office which implies an approbation of the Constitution, or which is placed under the direction of an immoral law. They have abstained from giving their votes at elections for legislators or officers, who must be qualified to act by an oath of allegiance to this immoral system. They could not themselves consistently swear allegiance to that Government, in the Constitution ot which there is contained so much immorality. In all these instances their practice has been uniform.’

And who wrote these sentiments? A man who was now repudiating them! And not only in the “Historical Part” of the Testimony, but in the “Doctrinal Part,” which was adopted at the same time, the holding up of the United States government as an ordinance of God was an error to be condemned and testified against. The sessional records all over the country reveal the fact, that, previous to the “new light” which dawned upon the Church in 1833, members who sat on juries or voted at any elections were censured, and they either confessed their sin or left the Church.

Without fear of contradiction it is affirmed, and synodical reports corroborate the statement, that it was the settled policy and position of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America to refuse allegiance to the United States government on account of its defects and immoralities. The constitutional law of the Church has always been that members are absolutely prohibited from affiliating with the government in any way that would involve them in its evil or give sanction to it as the ordinance of God.* The act of Synod in 1831, by which members were given the priviledge of free discussion, in no way gave them the liberty to change the constitutional law of the Church. The law on this subject was fixed, and it never was repealed, and stands to-day to the condemnation of those who departed from it.

*This position of the Church is admitted in the Reformed Presbyterian Advocate, the organ of the New School Church, January, 1888.

from A History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America by William Melancthon Glasgow, p90-92.

Continuing from page 71…”In the coalescence, the Covenanter ministers never thought of giving up their principles, but they should have known the dangers of a compromise of principle. No sooner had the fair building of Covenanterism been erected in America upon Reformation principles, than the builders began to hew down the carved palace by affiliating with men who were opposed to the design of the structure. And this thing was not done hastily. They had been deliberately agitating the question for at least five years, and consummated it in the erection of the Associate Reformed Church, November I, 1782.

They called the new organization by both names,, although it was practically an Associate Church still. As soon as the Constitution was framed a few years later, they all came under -it as the Associate Church had done in Britain; they swore allegiance to it as the ordinance of God, although God, or Christ, or the Bible, is not recognized in it. If not in 1782, certainly in 1789, it became an Associate Church, and we are not surprised to learn that some of the Covenanter ministers hung their heads in shame and regretted the step they had taken.

The Reformed Presbytery lost its name and organization in America. No doubt Matthew Linn was the best Covenanter among them. In all the conferences, the minutes of which are published in “Miller’s Sketches,” hot debates were prevalent, and all the differences between the two bodies were discussed with marked ability. Upon one occasion the blood of the old Covenanter Matthew Linn became stirred, and he concluded an able and eloquent address upon a proposition in these words: “You may agree to what propositions you please, but we Covenanters will agree to none but with this interpretation, that all power and ability civil rulers have are from Christ the Prophet of the Covenant; and all the food and raiment mankind enjoy are from Christ the Priest of the Covenant.” And if he and his colleagues had added that no government is lawfully constituted without the acknowledgment that Christ is the King of nations, and clung to these sentiments, there would have been no disastrous union. The following is the basis of union finally agreed upon and adopted:

1. That Jesus Christ died for the elect only.

2. That there is an appropriation in the nature of faith.

3. That the Gospel is indiscriminately addressed to sinners of mankind.

4. That the righteousness of Christ is the alone proper condition of the Covenant of grace.

5. That civil power originates from God the Creator, and not from Christ the Mediator.

6. That the administration of the kingdom of Providence is committed to Jesus Christ the Mediator; and magistracy, the ordinance appointed by the moral Governor of the world to be the pillar or prop of civil order among men, as well as other things, is rendered subservient by the Mediator to the welfare of His spiritual kingdom, the Church, and beside the Church has the sanctified use of that and every common benefit, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7. That the law of nature and the moral law revealed in Scripture are substantially the same, although the latter expresses the will of God more evidently and clearly than the former; and therefore magistrates among Christians ought to be regulated by the general directory of the Word as to the execution of their offices in faithfulness and righteousness.

8. That the qualifications of justice, veracity, &c, required in the law of nature for the being of a magistrate, are also more clearly and explicitly revealed as necessary in Scripture. But a religious test any farther than an oath of fidelity can never be essentially necessary to the being of a magistrate, except when the people make it a condition of government; then it may be among that people necessary by their own voluntary deed.

9. That both parties, when united, shall adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Catechisms Larger and Shorter, Directory for Worship, and Propositions concerning Church Government.

10. That they shall claim the full exercise of church discipline without dependence on foreign judicatories.

The union was consummated at the house of William Richards, in the city of Philadelphia, November 1, 1782, at which time and place the Synod of the Associate Reformed Church was constituted, with the Rev. John Mason, Moderator. The following members composed the new body as then organized:

Associates: Revs. James Proudfit, Matthew Henderson, John Mason, Robert Annan, John Smith, John Rodgers, Thomas Clark, William Logan, John Murray and David Annan. Elders—Joseph Miller, Thomas Douglas and William McKinley.

Covenanters: Revs. John Cuthbertson, Matthew Linn, Alexander Dobbin and David Telfair. Elders—James Bell, John Cochran and Dr. Robert Patterson.

The great majority of the Covenanters in the North followed their misguided pastors into the union. Rev. William Martin, in South Carolina, was the onlyCovenanter minister left in America, and no doubt he would have gone in too if he had been in good standing and had had the opportunity. The Covenanters in the South were little effected by the union. While in the ten articles of agreement there are many concessions to the principles of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, yet there are some radical departures. To the concessions all the Seceders did not agree, and to the departures all the Covenanters did not agree. The consequence was, three bodies were formed instead of one. While it is said “in union there is strength,” it depends largely upon the basis of that union. The moral strength of the Church depends upon purity of doctrine and not upon the mass of individuals.

from A History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America by William Melancthon Glasgow, p71-74.


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