F I F T H    P E R I O D .


TEN ASSEMBLIES, 1861-1870.

Per mare, ... per saxa, per ignes--Horace.

Of the ninety-seven presbyteries with which the Cumberland Presbyterian Church began this period, sixty-nine were in the slave States. Fifty Southern and thirteen Northern Presbyteries were each entitled to four representatives in the General Assembly. In a full Assembly there would have been two hundred and thirty-eight commissioners from the Southern States, and eighty-two from the Northern. The Board of Church Erection was located at St. Louis, Missouri; the Boards of Education and Publication at Nashville, Tennessee; and the Board of Missions and the Theological School at Lebanon, Tennessee--all on Southern soil, though Saint Louis was far more under Northern than Southern control. It was generally claimed as a Northern city, but as it had but two congregations of Cumberland Presbyterians, both of them feeble and struggling missions, it was not a favorable location for a church board.

When the crushing weight of the war rested on the Southern States, it rested on and paralyzed over two thirds of our people, so that our General Assemblies, which all met north of the military lines during the whole war, were greatly weakened. When the Assembly of 1861 convened in St. Louis, Missouri, there were twenty-nine delegates from Southern presbyteries, and twenty-one from Northern presbyteries: fifty out of three hundred and twenty. Sixty-one out of ninety-seven presbyteries had no representative at the organization. The question was seriously debated whether or [381] not those present should try to transact business for the church when so large a number of the presbyteries were not represented. It is well, however, that they decided the question affirmatively, for no better representation was secured until the great military struggle was over.

The church boards all managed to have their reports before the Assembly of 1861, and though the state of the country had already diminished their prosperity, yet they all showed a slight gain upon the preceding year's work. The Theological School had been suspended. The Missionary Board reported twenty-two thousand dollars receipts, fifty-five hundred dollars of it being a legacy. Only one hundred and thirty-three dollars had been paid to agents. In the ten Assemblies now under discussion much time was occupied in considering questions growing out of the war, but all that is reserved for the next chapter.

The General Assembly of 1862 met at Owensboro, Kentucky. The selection of that place was made in the spirit of conservatism. It is on the line between the two great sections then at war with each other, but the state of the country was such that no representatives of the Southern presbyteries were in attendance. When the Assembly was organized, sixty-nine presbyteries were unrepresented. It is not difficult to understand the reason why the Southern presbyteries were not represented. It was either wholly impossible for delegates to cross the military lines, or altogether too dangerous to be undertaken. The chances of being treated as a spy, or of being sent to a military prison, awaited any man from either section who crossed the lines without a pass; and passes for such trips to go and return were not granted.

The boards located in Tennessee had no representatives and no reports before this Assembly. These boards were, in fact, wholly unable even to have a meeting. All such operations were suspended. In this emergency two temporary committees were appointed by the Assembly, one on missions, and another on publication, to take charge, for the time, of these interests. The Committee on Publication was composed of men living far apart. They were to act in cooperation with the board at Nashville, if that was practicable, but independently of that board if they found [382] it necessary. The Committee on Missions was composed of men living in three different States. We are not surprised, therefore, at the nature of the reports made by these committees to the next Assembly.

When the General Assembly of 1863 met at Alton, Illinois, sixty-nine presbyteries were still without representatives, and none of the boards located in the South sent any report or representative. The two committees appointed to cooperate respectively with the Board of Missions and the Board of Publication, or to supplement their work, reported nothing done. These committees were then both reorganized. The one on missions was located at Alton, Illinois, and the one on publication at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Neither the Board of Missions at Lebanon nor the Board of Publication at Nashville was disbanded, but these new boards were organized for existing emergencies.

When a committee appointed by the General Assembly went to Nashville to take charge of the books, plates, and other property of the Board of Publication, with a view to removing these effects to Pittsburg, they encountered one serious obstacle. There was a debt against the board, and the creditors interfered to prevent the removal of the property. The committee returned without the books. They then raised money to pay off the debt, and when it was paid the books were safely shipped to Pittsburg.P.G. Rea and Frederick Lack were the committee. During their visit to Nashville no unpleasant word passed between them and the representatives of the Nashville board.(1)

In 1864 the General Assembly met in Lebanon, Ohio. The times were stormy, and the Assembly spent much of its session in discussing questions connected with the great national struggle.

The General Assembly of 1865, which was held at Evansville, Indiana, was more conservative than its predecessor. Owensboro, Kentucky, was nominated by the Rev. J.W. Woods, a Federal chaplain, and chosen as the place for the next Assembly.

From 1862 to 1865 the state of things in the Southern portion of the church was distressing beyond all description. No delegates could reach the General Assembly. No Cumberland Presby [383] terian paper was published in the South after the fall of Fort Donnelson, February, 1862. Papers from the Northern part of the church very rarely reached Southern readers. Even the proceedings of the General Assemblies were unknown. Synods and presbyteries could seldom meet except at called sessions, the regular meetings being prevented by military events. The records of some of these southern presbyteries show failure after failure in their efforts to hold even called meetings. The place appointed might be accessible enough when the call was made, but not accessible when the time for meeting arrived.

In view of these things it was resolved to try to hold annual conventions to be composed of delegates from all the Southern presbyteries. Several unsuccessful attempts to bring such a convention together to consult about the church's interests were made prior to 1863. Finally calls for a convention to meet in Chattanooga, Tennessee, were published in the secular papers. the time set for this meeting was August 10, 1863. As far as possible private letters were also sent to all the Southern presbyteries. The convention was to be composed of delegates from the presbyteries, the same ratio of representation being adopted as that observed in regard to commissioners to the General Assembly. In the organization of the convention, however, some elders and preachers who were not commissioned by any presbytery were present, and were admitted to seats. The convention was composed of over sixty members. Its Minutes were never published; therefore in giving a synopsis of its proceedings reliance is placed on private memoranda taken down at the time. There were only three important measures adopted. The first was the appointment of a missionary committee located in the army, with General A.P. Stewart chairman. The second was to resolve to hold annual conventions at the same time that the General Assembly met. The third was the adoption of a resolution steadfastly to resist any movement which looked toward the division of the church.

The largest Cumberland Presbyterian convention of this period met in Selma, Alabama, May, 1864.(2) It had about one hundred and fifty delegates. A most touching letter from the Rev. Milton [384] Bird, D.D., was received by this body. Bird lived north of the military lines, and his letter pleaded for the unity of the church. Many present were moved to tears while they listened to this letter. The convention changed the membership of the Committee on Missions from army men to citizens with a fixed residence. The new committee was located at Selma. But those were times when Southern citizens as a rule were almost as destitute of a fixed residence as were the soldiers, and in a short time it was proved that the members of the Selma committee were no exceptions. This committee, however, did good work so long as it had power to meet.

Inasmuch as the Cumberland Presbyterian papers in the South were all suspended, the Selma convention resolved to publish a religious weekly, and elected the Rev. L.C. Ransom editor. A copy of the Southern Observer would be quite a curiosity now. The same edition would be partly on foolscap paper, partly on brown wrapping paper, and partly on wall-paper. The coming of the United States troops to Selma put an end to its career.

A very small convention met in Memphis, Tennessee, the next year. But the church throughout the South thought the time for conventions past, inasmuch as the way promised to be opened for all sections to be represented in the next General Assembly.

In 1866 the way was open for delegates from the Southern as well as the Northern States to attend the General Assembly, and there was a very full delegation from both sections. The Assembly met at Owensboro, Kentucky. It appointed a general fast-day to pray for more preachers. A very large number of the young ministers of the church had been killed in the war. This Assembly recognized both the Board of Missions at Alton and the one at Lebanon as legitimate boards of the church. The Committee on Missions which had long been at work on the Pacific coast was also at this time taken under the care of the General Assembly. The board located at Lebanon made its first report since 1861. It had held no meeting during the war, neither had it established any missions or collected any money. It gave the Assembly its reasons. Those who have lived in a country overrun by armies and blazing with battles will readily guess what the reasons were. Others could never understand them.

[385] The next General Assembly, 1867, met in Memphis, Tennessee. There was a very full attendance. A sermon about the church as the body of Christ, which was preached at this Assembly by the Rev. L.C. Ransom, deserves to be specially mentioned. The preacher spoke of wounds in the body. He said every thing depended on the state of health. The forces of nature could soon overcome wounds in a healthy body, but a weak, sickly condition might make even small wounds fatal. The healthy condition of the church, Christ's body, was a state of vigorous spiritual life, and depended on daily communion with Jesus. Such a state would insure the rapid healing up of any wounds which it was possible for the body to receive. He said there were no wrongs which could possibly separate true Christians hopelessly, no wrongs which such Christians could not adjust. He based his hopes for preserving our church unity on the vigorous spirituality which Cumberland Presbyterians still preserved as a heritage from their fathers, and which, by the wonderful grace of God, had been maintained through all the trying contest which had deluged our land in blood. This Assembly resolved to discontinue the Committee on Publication located at Pittsburg, and to reorganize the board at Nashville, and directed that the assets should be transferred from Pittsburg to Nashville. Motions looking to the reorganization of this board at Nashville had been made in a former Assembly, but owing to the impoverished condition of all the Southern States the measure had been delayed.

The corresponding delegate representing the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (Southern), had on his own authority stated in his speech to that body that he believed the time for steps toward organic union had come. That Assembly thereupon (November, 1866) appointed a committee to meet a similar committee from our church. The Cumberland Presbyterian committee was appointed by our Assembly in 1867. The two committees met in Memphis the following August. A long and pleasant conference was held. At the first meeting a resolution was adopted expressing the belief that the strengthening and edification of the church and the salvation of sinners would be greatly promoted by the union of the two [386] churches. Each of the two committees, after consulting separately, presented a statement of the conditions upon which it was thought possible to effect an organic union. The Presbyterian committee proposed that the union should be formed "on the basis of the old Standards as they were held by the fathers previous to the separation." The committee representing the Cumberland Presbyterian Church agreed to give up our church name; to surrender our Standards and accept those of the Presbyterian Church in the matter of ministerial education, and to adopt the Presbyterian Standards, or such modifications of them as might be mutually acceptable, on all other points of difference in Form of Government and Discipline. But they asked that the Confession of Faith and Catechism of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church should be adopted instead of the Presbyterian Confession and Catechism; or, as an alternative, they agreed to adopt the doctrinal Standards of the Presbyterian Church with the modifications of the third, fifth, eighth, and seventeenth chapters of the Westminster Confession of Faith indicated on pages 69 and 70 of this History. In case this should not be satisfactory, the Cumberland Presbyterian committee expressed their willingness to accept a new compilation on the basis of the Westminster Standards which should exclude all phraseology and modes of expression which might plausibly be construed as favoring the idea of fatality or necessity. The conference closed, and these propositions were referred to the General Assemblies of the two churches. The Presbyterian Assembly met first (November, 1867), and voted down the proposed union, adopting the following deliverance on this subject:

The Assembly hereby records its devout acknowledgement to the Great Head of the church for the manifest tokens of his presence with the committees of conference during their deliberations as evinced by the spirit of Christian candor, forbearance, and love displayed by both parties in their entire proceedings. the Assembly regards the object for which the committees were appointed as one fully worthy of the earnest endeavors and continued prayers of God's people in both branches of the church represented in the committees. But at the same time it is compelled, in view of the terms for effecting any organic union suggested by the committee of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, to declare that, regarding the present period as one very un [387] favorable for making changes in our standards of faith and practice, it is more especially so for effecting changes so materially modifying the system of doctrine which has for centuries been the distinguishing peculiarity and eminent glory of the Presbyterian Churches both of Europe and the United States.

This was equivalent to a decision by the Presbyterian Church that doctrinal differences are the one bar to union with Cumberland Presbyterians.

Delegates appointed by the Cumberland Presbyterian General Assembly for the sole purpose of bearing fraternal greetings to other churches have several times abused their official positions by inaugurating negotiations looking toward organic union with these churches. This has been done at least four times since the war. The Assembly of 1886 adopted a resolution requiring corresponding delegates to refrain from all such unauthorized officiousness.

The General Assembly of 1868 met at Lincoln, Illinois. The Board of Publication at Nashville had been organized by the election of the Rev. A.J. Baird, president, and the Rev. J.C. Provine, financial agent. Its receipts for the year were $12,208. The previous Assembly had appointed a committee to revise the Form of Government (not the Confession of Faith), and the report of this committee occupied a large part of this Assembly's time. This revised discipline was on hand for several years. It was referred to the presbyteries three times, but their responses not being satisfactory in any case, it was finally abandoned.

The General Assembly of 1869 met at Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Various matters in the action of these Assemblies, it will be remembered, are reserved for special chapters. Except such reserved items, the chief work of this Assembly was the consolidation of the three missionary boards into one. The Cumberland Presbyterian, then published in Pennsylvania, had been earnestly urging this consolidation. The Theological School, the Board of Publication, and the Board of Missions were regarded as the three most important denominational enterprises, and there was among the delegates in this Assembly a general feeling in favor of establishing one of these in the Northern part of the church. A movement with this end in view was inaugurated by representatives from the [388] South, and at the suggestion of Northern representatives the consolidated Board of Missions was located at Saint Louis, Missouri. The wisdom of this selection needs no vindication. A point farther north than Saint Louis would have been too near the outer border of the church. Under this new arrangement it was understood that the whole church was to cooperate with the Board of Missions at Saint Louis, and also with the Board of Publication and the Theological School located respectively at Nashville and Lebanon, Tennessee. With only such exceptions as all human affairs abound in, this pledge is still kept in good faith.

Between the Assembly of 1869 and that of 1870 a sharp discussion arose over the plans of the Board of Missions. The Assembly had divided the ecclesiastical year into quarters, assigning to each of the four principal enterprises of the church one quarter for its financial collections. The aim of this quarterly system was to avoid conflicting calls upon the congregations, and, by having all the pastors take these regular quarterly collections, to supersede the employment of agents by the boards. As soon as the consolidated Board of Missions at Saint Louis was organized, it decided to adopt a system of agencies similar to those employed by insurance companies. There were two obligations which, some people thought, were violated by this scheme. The Assembly's plan for quarterly work by the pastors would be virtually set aside, and the pledge of cooperation with the other church boards would be infringed. If agents were to be sent out to canvass the churches all the year round as proposed, working only for missions, there would be conflicts, and, it was feared, very little cooperation. Long articles on both sides of the question appeared in the church papers.

The Board of Missions argued that the pastoral system of the church was as yet too imperfect to justify the abandonment of agencies. The other side replied that all ministers, whether pastors or supplies, were expected to work under the quarterly system, and would in time all fall into line. When the Assembly of 1870 met at Warrensburg, Missouri, the Board of Missions proposed as a compromise that its agents should be entrusted with all the collections for all the boards of the church. The Assembly referred [389] the whole matter to a committee composed of representatives of all the boards. None of the other boards agreed to the proposed compromise; but they submitted another plan which was accepted and approved by the Assembly. The substance of this compromise was that the quarterly system should be suspended for one year, and that the missionary board and all the other boards should be allowed to work on their own plans. The friends of the missionary board felt confident that one year's test of their plan would demonstrate its utility. But their expectations were not realized, and the system of quarterly collections was subsequently restored.

There was a long and able discussion in the church papers between Dr. S.G. Burney and Dr. Milton Bird on the proposition to abolish synods, Dr. Burney taking the affirmative. The matter was brought before the General Assembly, but the proposition met with but little favor. It was not referred to the presbyteries, though most of the presbyteries discussed the question, and gave utterance to their views on the subject. Much interest was awakened throughout the whole church by this discussion, not only because both the disputants were men of marked ability and used very able arguments, but also because the question really had two sides, with a long array of facts favoring each side.

The church periodicals of this period were numerous, but most of them short lived. The Cumberland Presbyterian in Pennsylvania, was published all through the war. The Banner of Peace was suspended from 1862 till the war closed, and then revived. With various changes of name and auspices, a weekly paper was kept up either at Saint Louis, Missouri, or at Alton, Illinois, throughout this period. After the war The Ladies' Pearl and the Theological Medium, the former a monthly and the latter a quarterly, were revived, and Dr. T.C. Blake established the Sunday School Gem. This was the first Sunday School paper ever published in the interest of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. This little paper has been the means of leading many a child to Jesus.

The new presbyteries appearing on the Minutes of the Assembly in this period are: Huntsville (1866), Leavenworth (1867), Guthrie (1868), King, Bethel, and Tulare (1869). The work of consolidating the synods began in this period, so that there were [390] fewer synods in the church but much larger ones in 1870 than in 1860. Through such consolidation the Kentucky Synod disappeared from the roll in 1865, and the Ozark Synod in 1866. The latter was reorganized in 1871. The name of Union Synod was Changed to Alabama (1867), and that of Sacramento to Pacific (1863).





In this period several General Assemblies were held which were not accessible to Southern representatives, and there were also conventions of delegates from Southern presbyteries not accessible to Northern men. Then after the war closed there were several Assemblies in which the representatives of the church from both sections met and deliberated together. The deliverances of these several Assemblies and conventions concerning subjects connected with the civil war are now to be considered. It seems most impartial to give the full text of these deliverances, as it is possible to make a wrong impression by omissions, or to change a fair history into a partisan one by omitting portions of the record.

Before proceeding to these deliverances let us read the opening sermon of the Assembly of 1861 as it was reported in the papers at the time. This sermon was preached by the Rev. Milton Bird, D.D., from Hebrews 13:1: "Let brotherly love continue." The speaker introduced the subject with the inquiry, Who are brothers? and then proceeded to say:

In the most comprehensive sense of the word, all men are brethren, being made of the same blood. In its most limited signification those who are born of the same immediate parents are brethren. In the Bible sense of the term, Christians--those who are born of God, adopted into his family, and made partakers of his Spirit--are brethren It is of this great brotherhood in Christ that the apostle speaks when he says, Let brotherly love continue.

1.--It is a fact that Christians love one another. The spirit of Christianity is a spirit of love; faith works by love; pure Christianity is the strongest bond of friendship and kindness. That religion which is [392] not so is unworthy of the name. It is sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. I John 5:12; 4:7,8,9,16; and 3:14,15.

2.--The continuance of brotherly love is the true apostolic succession. There is but this one sense in which there is a regular line, descent, or succession from the apostles. All who are regenerated by the Holy Spirit and built together upon Christ, the corner-stone, are in the regular line--no others. Any other succession than this is a gross delusion. They who set themselves up as the only church in virtue of a regular line of popes, or apostolic ordinations, or water baptisms, deceive themselves and others. The true church of Christ is made up of all regenerated persons of all ages, nations, and denominations. All who have been born of the Spirit are brethren; they are one, and should love one another as God has commanded. The true line of succession revealed in the gospel is the law of life in Christ Jesus, which makes us free from the law of sin and death. All in whom this law abides recognize the same Spirit in each other by his outgoings from their hearts; and with a pure heart they fervently love one another as brethren Judas was an apostle, and Simon, the sorcerer, was baptized; but outward ceremonies and rites were not sufficient to place them in the true line of succession; they were without the spirit and law of life in Christ Jesus; their hearts were not right in the sight of God.

Trusting in barren ordinances and rejecting the vital spirit of Christianity has perverted and poisoned the church. Ecclesiastical bodies without the renewing life of the Holy Spirit are not the habitations of God. They are not built upon the corner-stone, nor cemented together by brotherly love in the unity of the spirit and the bonds of peace. They conform to the world, and are attractive to the carnally minded because such can live in their communion without any restraint upon their follies and lusts. The current of the world has set so strongly into the true and living church, that multitudes make profession of religion and connect themselves with the visible church who are little if any better than before. They are often full of envy and strife among themselves, being desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another; and they often have more bitter prejudices and less charity for those who do not agree with them about some rite or minor point of doctrine than the people of the world. Alas, for such Christianity as does not change the carnal mind, and turn the heart from hatred to love, and prove itself genuine by yielding the fruits of the Spirit--"love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Such a religion is not worth the name. It had been better, infinitely better, for the cause of truth and the world, had it never existed. "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh [393] with the affections and lusts." "If we live in the spirit, let us also walk in the spirit." "Let brotherly love continue."

3.--When is brotherly love in danger of being lost?

At the time when it was said to the Hebrews, "Let brotherly love continue," the Jewish people were divided and distracted among themselves about matters of State and religion. Both the church and State were greatly corrupted and demoralized. So it is now in our nation. This fact can not be disguised; we all painfully feel it. Most of our old men, great men and good men both in church and State, have died. The rude blast was permitted to shake them like ripe fruit to their fall. Our beloved country is now convulsed with civil war. Why and how this was brought about, and who is to blame for it, is not for me to say in this place. Of the fact I speak, and a lamentable fact it is to every patriot, to every Christian heart. In such times as these brotherly love is in great danger of being lost.

Brothers in Christ, though our country is divided and engaged in fratricidal war, we are brethren still, we can not afford to separate. Pure religion changes not. Its life is love, its atmosphere peace. As soon could heaven sink into hell, or hell rise up to heaven, as a change come over the pure principles and spirit of Christianity. Love can not become hatred; it always endeavors to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bonds of peace. If we are the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus, we are the subjects of a kingdom not of this world. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but spiritual; we wield the sword of the Spirit. The more we love one another with a pure heart fervently, the better we can fight the battles of the Prince of Peace. If the spirit of Christ is in us, we will let brotherly love continue. We will not dishonor the white flag of heaven, nor give aid to the black flag of hell by strife and division. A pure and honest Christian is just and true still, though the heavens fall. He will not desert the standard, nor give aid and encouragement to the enemy of God. He will not wound the Captain-General of his salvation in the house of his friends. Brethren, we are in the midst of temptations, and motives to disobedience, alienation, and division present themselves on every hand. Let us, as Christians, prove our faith and love and verify our profession by abiding in love and in obedience to the laws of God and man in humble imitation of him who was obedient unto death.

In our organic relations as brethren let the pure spirit and principle of Christianity continue to connect us as one body. Christ is not divided, why should we divide? There is no sufficient cause. That which can not divide Christ should not be permitted to divide his people. A double guard and a most rigid scrutiny are requited of every Christian who would do his duty in times so perilous as these upon [394] which we have fallen. We find alarming developments in the tone of some of the secular and so-called religious journals which profess at once to express and guide the public mind. These openly evince an utter disregard for truth and right, of constitution and law, and do their utmost to marshal North and South against each other in the most bitter malignity.

In these times of serious religious apostasy and general political corruption on which we have fallen, city and State and nation are tainted with the virus of loathsome disease; magistrates take bribes, legislators are more selfish than patriotic, and rulers are oftentimes demagogues instead of statesmen. It is easy to do wrong in matters which seem insignificant, owing to the circumstances which have

brought other things into greater prominence. It is very easy, in a time of general defection and excitement, to lose sight of those fundamental principles of right by which we are hound to act at all times. It is very easy to loosen the restraints which God's law, conscience, and good government impose for our welfare and to keep us in unity as brethren. It requires genuine faith in God to stand firm in these times of general defection of church and State. The pulpit has been perverted and the church prostrated. The standard of morality has been lowered, and the nation so demoralized that God and the Bible have been repudiated, passion and lust have been enthroned. The nation has defied the binding force of the law of the Sabbath. The country has been ruled by the passion of avarice. God will humble the pride of the nation. Sectional war has fallen upon the land as a just judgment of the Almighty. It is a punishment for the ingratitude and guilty delusion, folly, and blindness of the people. Let the church and the nation humble themselves beneath the rod, and, in penitential confession and earnest supplication to God, seek deliverance from the most terrible calamity and threatened destruction.

Beloved brethren, we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into disputes about the things which belong to Caesar, and so become divided in things which belong to God. Each must allow others to follow their convictions of right in regard to the unfortunate condition produced by the Northern and Southern extremists who have dismembered our once happy and prosperous Union. Before this rupture our religion was not geographical or sectional, nor is it so since the rupture. If a sectional religion divides us here, and destroys brotherly love, it will exclude us from heaven. There is no Northern or Southern religion there, but God's redeemed in heaven come from the north and the south, from the east and the west. Disputes about religion should never be suffered to cool our Christian affection. Christians should always love and live as brethren, without regard to name, denomina [395] tion, or peculiar views. they should recognize each other as members of the same great spiritual family. More especially should those who agree in doctrine and practice cultivate friendly relations, and remain one. The sea is rocking, the waves are roiling, great is the necessity therefore that we should stand firm in this perilous hour, and show that our church has enough of the life and power of godliness to be capable of braving the storm and guiding the ship. We must look to Jehovah, who is the God of the rainbow as of the deluge. He reigns in the storm as in the calm. How appropriate and how full of comfortable language of the Psalmist, as read in your hearing in the introduction of these exercises, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, will not we fear though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea, though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. ... He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth; he breaketh the bow, and cutteth the spear in sunder; he burneth the chariot in the fire?" We are in the hands of the Lord. Only let us do our duty and put our trust in him and all will be well. He will protect his people and save his church. As we have loved each other heretofore, so let brotherly love continue until all men shall be constrained to cry aloud, "Behold, how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

Through all these bitter years the voice of Milton Bird rang out on the same key, nor did it ring in vain.

The Assembly of 1861 met at Saint Louis. After a preamble deploring the war, it put on record the following resolutions:


1.--That we recognize the good providence and rich grace of Almighty God in bringing our General Assembly together in the present fearful crisis in the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace, and in giving us to experience "How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity."

2.--That while we regret the circumstances which have prevented the attendance of commissioners from some of the presbyteries, we do now and hereby record our sincere thanks to our heavenly Father that brethren have met from north and south, east and west, and that brotherly kindness and love have continued from the opening to the close of our present meeting--nothing occurring to disturb in the least the warm and brotherly spirit of unity and peace.

3.--That, the grace of God assisting us, we will always endeavor to cherish the true principles and pure spirit of Christianity; that, with this enthroned in our hearts, we can and will walk in love and live in [396] peace; that thus we may walk and live in the bonds of unbroken brotherhood, we do hereby recommend that unceasing prayer be made throughout the whole church for the guidance and blessing of Almighty God through these times of great peril and trouble.

4.--That the General Assembly do now and hereby recommend to every person, family, and congregation composing our church the observance of the twenty-second day of June as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer before and unto that God who has said, "Be still, and know that I am God," for the deliverance of his church out of her fiery trials, and for a righteous and peaceful solution of the troubles and fratricidal war that now curse our common country.

The General Assembly of 1862, held at Owensboro, Kentucky, adopted the following report:

The committee submit the following report: Since the last meeting of this body the church has been passing through a severe ordeal. No small injury to her spiritual and temporal interests has resulted from the crisis of public affairs, religious and civil. While in some portions of the church there have been precious revivals of religion, still there is an evident want of an earnest-hearted Christianity. ... Our church in its teachings on the subject of our duties to the civil government has in its doctrines (drawn, as we believe, from the word of God) set up a pure and lofty standard of Christian morality, included in which is the doctrine that government is God's institution, not a mere human regulation, and that obedience in its constitutional sphere is a religious as well as a civil obligation. This doctrine is particularly set forth in our Confession of Faith, chapter 23, section 4: "It is the duty of the people to pray for magistrates, to honor their persons, to pay them tribute and other duties; to obey their lawful commands, and to be subject to their authority for conscience' sake. Infidelity or difference in religion

does not make void the magistrate's just and legal authority, nor free the people from their due obedience to him, from which ecclesiastical persons are not exempted."

Chapter 20, section 4: "And because the powers which God hath ordained and the liberty which Christ hath purchased are not intended by God to destroy, but mutually to uphold and preserve one another, they who upon pretense of Christian liberty shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, whether it be civil or ecclesiastical, resist the ordinance of God. And for their publishing of such opinions, or maintaining of such practices as are contrary to the light of nature or to the known principles of Christianity, whether concerning faith, worship, or conversation, or the power of godliness, or such erroneous opinions or practices as either in their own nature, or in the [397] manner of publishing or maintaining them, are destructive to the external peace and order which Christ hath established in the church, they may lawfully be called to account, and proceeded against by the censures of the church."

Regarding our duties to civil government, we refer our ministers and people to the aforementioned article of our faith as the utterance of the Assembly on the subject. In connection with this we invite their attention to, and strict observance of, chapter 31, section 4: "Synods and councils are to handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical, and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by humble petition, in cases extraordinary, or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate."


1.--That In the teaching of our Confession of Faith, as well as In our admirable civil constitution, church and State are wisely kept apart, and the principle established that ecclesiastical legislation is not needed for the State, nor civil legislation, except for security of person and property, which is a political right, for the church.

2.--That in this time of trial we approve and reindorse unequivocally the above-mentioned article of our faith, and agreeably thereto we at all times hold ourselves accountable for our ecclesiastical relations and conduct to the church.

3.--That we deeply deplore the carnage and demoralizing tendency of a war of brothers.

4.--That in the present crisis of our public affairs we regard the church and the nation especially called upon to humble themselves before God for their many and grievous sins, imploring his assistance in bringing the war to a speedy conclusion in a righteous peace.

5.--That in this time of confused passion we will, so far as in us lies, endeavor to allay and not exasperate the feelings of those, who differ from us, and we most earnestly and affectionately advise our ministers and members to cultivate forbearance and conciliation; to avoid partisanship and sectionalism in church and State; and to evidence their loyalty to Caesar by their loyalty to Christ in following his example and teaching, and thus continue in brotherly love, and stand before the world a united brotherhood, walking in the comfort of love and in the fellowship of the Spirit.

6.--That we deeply sympathize with those stricken families in our several congregations now mourning the death of loved ones fallen in the bloody strife, and we commend them to the tender compassion of the God of all consolation who is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and who knoweth them that trust in him. (Nahum 1:7.)

Adopted unanimously by the committee.

[398] This report was signed by Milton Bird, Chairman, W.F. Baird, Archibald Johnson, A.B. Brice, H.C. Read, F.A. Witherspoon, J.B. Green, J.B. Logan, J.H. Nickell, J.M. Gill, and I.N. Cary.

The General Assembly of 1863, at Alton, Illinois, adopted the following:

Your special committee to whom was referred the memorial from the Synod of Ohio touching the morality of political secession and the institution of American slavery, have had the subject assigned them under prayerful, protracted, and patient investigation, and in answer to the memorial before us, and, also, in order to present a paper that will embody a deliverance from this General Assembly touching these subjects, we submit the following preamble and resolutions:

"Whereas, This General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the United States of America can not conceal from itself the lamentable truth that the very existence of our church and nation is endangered by a gigantic rebellion against the rightful authority of the general government of the United States, which rebellion has plunged the nation into the most dreadful civil war; and, whereas, The church is the light of the world, and can not withhold her testimony upon great moral and religious questions, and upon measures so deeply affecting the great interests of Christian civilization, without becoming justly chargeable with the sin of hiding her light under a bushel; therefore, resolved,

1.--That loyalty and obedience to the general government in the exercise of its legitimate authority, are the imperative Christian duties of every citizen; and that treason and rebellion are not mere political offenses of one section against another, but heinous sins against God and his authority.

2.--That the interests of our common Christianity, and the cause of Christian civilization and national freedom throughout the world, impel us to hope and pray God (in whom is all our trust) that this unnatural rebellion may be put down, and the rightful authority of the general government reestablished and maintained.

3.--That we deeply sympathize with our fellow-countrymen and brethren who, in the midst of great temptation and sufferings, have stood firm in their devotion to God and their country; and, also, with those who have been driven, contrary to their judgment and wishes, into the ranks of the rebellion.

4.--That in this time of trial and darkness we re-indorse the preamble and resolution adopted by the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church at Clarksville, Tennessee, on the 24th day of May, 1850, which are as follows:

"Whereas, In the opinion of this General Assembly the preserva [399] tion of the union of these States is essential to the civil and religious liberty of the people; and it is regarded as proper and commendable in the church, and more particularly in the branch which we represent (it having had its origin within the limits of the United States of America, and that soon after the blood of our revolutionary fathers had ceased to flow in that unequal contest through which they where successfully conducted by the strong arm of Jehovah), to express its devotion on all suitable occasions to the government of their choice; therefore,

"Resolved, That this General Assembly look with censure and disapprobation upon attempts from any quarter to dissolve this Union, and would regard the success of any such movement as exceedingly hazardous to the cause of religion, as well as civil liberty. And this General Assembly would strongly recommend to all Christians to make it a subject of prayer to Almighty God to avert from our beloved country a catastrophe so direful and disastrous."

The General Assembly of 1864 met at Lebanon, Ohio. The momentous events then transpiring and the perilous and excited state of the country doubtless had much influence in shaping the deliverance of this Assembly. It adopted the following:

The special committee appointed to consider the memorial from the Presbytery of Indiana, and to which was referred the communication from the Presbytery of Richland, would respectfully report that the questions brought under consideration in the memorial and communication are of deepest interest to the church at the present time. This is a season of extraordinary events and unusual responsibilities. God, the Maker of the world, the Governor of kingdoms and States, who will be known by the judgments he executes, seems now to be dealing with the nations in his displeasure, and in dignity and majesty he is marching through the land, while the foundations of society are breaking up. Then, it is a time when we should look to the wrong that we may forsake it, and inquire diligently for the truth that we may embrace it as a precious thing that can not be disregarded without offending the Most High.

The question intended to be brought to the consideration of your reverend body by the Presbytery of Indiana is contained in the fourth resolution of its memorial, which is as follows:

"Resolved, further, That in this great crisis of our church and nation we memorialize the next General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church to set forth still more fully and more clearly than it did last spring, the social and moral evils inherent in the system of slavery as it exists in the Southern States; and that it urge upon our Southern brethren, in all Christian faithfulness, that the time has fully come, in the [400] providence of God, when they can, and therefore should, without delay, abandon a system which is a reproach to our holy religion, and which has so imperiled our beloved church, our free government, and our national union."

On this memorial we propose the following deliverance:


1.--That we regard the holding of human beings in involuntary servitude, as practiced in some of the States of the American Union, as contrary to the principles of our holy religion; and as being the fruitful source of many evils and vices in the social system.

2.--That it be recommended to Cumberland Presbyterians, both North and South, to give countenance and support to all constitutional efforts of our government to rid the country of that enormous evil.

The business intended to be brought before your reverend body in the communication from the Presbytery of Richland, is contained in the following resolutions:


1.--That as a presbytery we do not desire the dissolution of our church whether our government be permanently divided or not.

2.--That as a Presbytery we wish to cultivate the same feelings which have ever existed between this presbytery and the brethren of the whole church.

3.--That we do not think political differences a sufficient ground for the dissolution of any church.

4.--That this presbytery instruct her delegates to the General Assembly, to study the interests of the whole church, leaving out of view any sectional feeling or interest.

In response to which your committee would say that we regard the preservation of the integrity of the church as of great importance, and we hope that all will be done that can be done to preserve it whole, without conniving at sin and sacrificing the principles of truth and justice, but to these we must adhere. The great Master said: "I came not to send peace, but a sword; for I come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother in-law, and a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Not that such was the design of his coming, but that such would be the effect, in that conflict that must go on between truth and falsehood, holiness and sin. In this conflict we must stand by our Master, though it require us to sever the dearest ties of time. And as this General Assembly has twice declared that obedience to the civil magistrate is a Christian duty, therefore we must regard those who are, or have been, voluntarily in rebellion against the government of these United States, as not only guilty of a crime against the government, but also guilty of a great sin against God; and with such, without repentance and humiliation before God and the church, we can desire no fellow [401] ship. But to all such as have stood true to God and the government of the United States, and prove their loyalty by their works, we extend the cordial hand of a brother's greeting and a brother's welcome, saying let us live in peace, love as brethren, and toil together under the banner of our common Master, until we shall be called from labor to the refreshing rewards on high.

{The committee which submitted this report consisted of W.S. Campbell, Illinois; Lee Roy Woods, Ohio; J.L. Payne, Tennessee; Jas. Ritchey, Indiana; Geo. S. Adams, Iowa; J.M. Gallagher, Pennsylvania; H.W. Eagan, Illinois; J.B. Logan, Illinois; P.G. Rea, Missouri. The first item was signed by all of these, an the second item by all except J.L. Payne.}

Against this action the following protest was entered:

We protest against the action adopting the report:

1.--Because the principle of action is erroneous, and its spirit secular and sectional. It makes, or seeks to make, an issue that is not made in the fundamental law or doctrine of the church. The point involved subverts our ecclesiastical law, by inaugurating a radical course of action tending to revolutionize and destroy. The principles of the constitution of the church and teachings of the word of God, point out an open way, wherein all must walk, who avoid revolution and destruction produced by radicalism, in its opposite types; it is erroneous in principle and fanatical in spirit, producing alienation, division, and ruin.

2.--The fundamental law of our church organization can not be changed, nor a new one introduced, either directly or indirectly, by any person in this Assembly; any action it may take overstepping this law or tending thereto is of no binding force, and is, in fact, merely the opinion of those voting for it.

Those who demand that the time of this Assembly shall be occupied in the unceasing agitation of slavery, to the neglect of its legitimate business, say they want and must have a full and clear expression of the whole church. Now if such expression was not given in 1851 and 1863, it is certain that it is not given in 1864, when the country is in such a state of excitement as it never was before, and this is the smallest Assembly that ever has taken action on the subject. (Here follows a comparison of figures to show that the Assembly of 1864, which had representatives from but twenty-six presbyteries out of ninety-seven, and had only fifty delegates present when the vote was taken, was not able to give the "full and clear expression of the whole church.")

The action of the previous Assemblies was sufficiently plain and full to satisfy all reasonable persons, and as for others they will continue to clamor for increased and continued agitation.

[402] 3.--Intelligence, order, piety, justice, and benevolence do not consist with agitation and violence, or the result thereof. Indulgence sharpens the appetite for agitation and makes it more craving. In the incipient stages of it, few if any look to the final result. It is a chronic nightmare, varied with periodical spasms, until its normal state is convulsion, and it enters upon a revolution, the radicalness of which becomes every day more apparent. The ever-restless and clamorous agitation is destructive in its tendency; it generates an atmosphere of alienation and bitterness in which the genius of cohesion dies and union crumbles away. When the creed of the church or its fundamental law dies, or sectional hatred becomes stronger than love to that creed and that law and their sacred associations, then fanatical sectional agitation dismembers the church and makes its continued unity impossible, by having no common ground for a truce to conflict of opinion; the spirit of fanaticism not being less intolerant than that of the Spanish inquisition.

4.--The perpetual agitation is aimless, if its end is not to introduce a condition of communion such as is not made by our Savior and his apostles, and the framers of the constitution and discipline of our church. The agitation is not demanded by a type of piety and benevolence above that professed by others, but by a strange mania that is abroad, which seems to operate alike in scoffing infidels, corrupt and babbling politicians, and such professors of religion as are led or driven by the pressure of any peculiar circumstances which may surround them. They who would make the church conform to the outside secular, sectional pressure of the times, under the idea that if they do not do so, that pressure will crush and kill the church, take the most effectual course they could to destroy the spiritual life, strength, and moral influence of the church. Do they follow the example and believe him who said, "I will build my church upon this rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?"

God and his word do not change. What is our duty now was our duty in the past, and will be our duty in the future. Changing circumstances are not the standard of duty.

5.--The adoption of the report arrives at no finality on the subject. The presbyteries have not had it before them, as the issue is sought to be made here, and therefore any action of the Assembly amounts to nothing more than an expression of the private opinion of those sustaining it. Present action will be no more a finality than past action, if we may judge the future by the past. Those voting for the report simply express their opinion, and that opinion neither becomes the word of God nor the principle of the Constitution and Discipline of the church; it is merely agitation for the sake of agitation, and the appetite for it becomes more clamorous by indulgence, and it is not even satisfied when it has produced alienation, division, and ruin.

[403] 6.--We protest against the adoption of the report, because we are opposed to that which in effect leads to secession in church and State. It is a historical fact that church secession opens the way to, and was auxiliary to, secession and division in the State; that which carries forward the former aids the latter.

There is an abolition type of disloyalty as well as a secession type; the latter is the offspring of the former, and there is a sympathy between them, both operating as a unit in effect. If the end aimed at in ecclesiastical secession is to strengthen good government, then it is commendable, but it is not attained in so cheap a way. They do greatly deceive themselves who think to establish a character for extraordinary patriotism and loyalty, by delivering themselves of preambles, and resolutions, and wind, in ecclesiastical bodies If they would take their position with the suffering soldier in the front ranks under the lead of the true and earnest generals, then they would obtain credit for patriotism and loyalty, by showing that they had a heart to serve the country in its trials. It is an old but true maxim that "actions speak louder than words."

7.--We can not countenance the work of alienation and disorganization in the church, because faith and liberty suffer equally from it. The course of action against which we protest, we regard as unwise, especially in the present condition of the country. There is no precedent in the primitive church for the policy of this action. While it does no good, it will do harm. In our judgment, its advocates are under some bewildering influence, and strangely misconceive the question which they undertake to settle, and the bearing of their action upon it. The chapter God has written upon the heart and animus of the Assembly, he will cause to be respected, and each one of us must meet it for himself at the judgment seat of Christ.

This protest was signed by Milton Bird, Minor E. Pate, E. Barbour, M.T. Reed, J.W.P. Davis, J.B. Green, W.B. Farr, M.V. Brokau, S.A. Ramsey, R.A. Reed, Ezra Ward, and Jesse Anderson.

Thirty-eight votes were cast in favor of the deliverance adopted by this Assembly, and twelve against it.

The Assembly of 1865, at Evansville, Indiana, made no new deliverance, but passed the following resolution:

Resolved, That we are apprised that in all the States lately in rebellion against the government of the United States, there will be difficulties to encounter in re-organizing churches and presbyteries, on account of the fact that many of our ministers and members have been involved in the rebellion; some perhaps willingly, and many from force [404] of circumstances. Therefore we recommend to all our brethren in those States, in re-constructing the churches, to adopt the action of the last General Assembly, touching that matter, as a basis, believing that said action after showing true devotion to civil government, is according to the principles of God's holy word and our Confession of Faith, and that no further legislation is necessary on the subject.

A full report has now been given of deliverances made by Assemblies inaccessible to the Southern presbyteries. We are next to look at the action of the Southern Cumberland Presbyterian conventions. These conventions refused uniformly to give any deliverance on these questions. This was not because there was on the part of those composing them any lack of earnest conviction, nor because there was any less outside pressure on them than on the Assemblies. The convictions of rectitude, and the feeling against what was regarded the outrages of "the enemy," were, if possible, even deeper with Southern than with Northern Christians. The pressure on the conventions for some "deliverance" condemning "the sectional usurpations of the Northern States," was very great. The Oxford Presbytery seceded from the denomination because the church still held to its "union with the enemy." Members in the extreme South were withdrawing for political reasons.

When the Chattanooga convention met in 1863, there was one member who thought that the Southern churches would be compelled to yield to this outside pressure, and he moved that steps be taken in that direction. Then the Rev. W.M. Reed, a rebel colonel, rose in his place and made a most thrilling speech. In substance, among other things, he said: "They taunt us with treason. Very well. Let those whose ecclesiastical skirts are red with the blood of this fratricidal war taunt on. I would rather go before my final Judge with our record than with theirs. Mr. Chairman, at this solemn hour, when Jehovah is dealing with our people, it is a source of unspeakable comfort to me that our church has always been conservative. The outside world demands that we come out. They call for deliverances. Well, sir, the whole manhood of our Southern churches is giving its deliverances, with muskets in the trenches, not on paper in church judicatures. Those who are not satisfied with the form of our deliverances, but ask in addition that we put Caesar above Christ, and rend Christ's body, in order to [405] show our patriotism, are not entitled to our respect. We want to please God, not politicians. Mr. Chairman, let us wait, and pray, and hope. I believe our church will remain undivided, no matter what comes of this bitter civil struggle."

When the vote was taken not one single voice was heard in favor of the motion. Even its mover voted no. No such motion ever again came up in this or any subsequent convention held by Southern Cumberland Presbyterians. A persistent determination to avoid schism was both expressed and maintained.

We are now to consider the deliverances adopted by the representatives of the two sections in General Assemblies held after the close of the war. The first Assembly in which Northern and Southern delegates met after peace was established, was held at Owensboro, Kentucky, May, 1866. This appointment, by Northern votes, to meet on Southern soil, looked like holding out the olive branch of peace. Still there were many fears of division. There were extreme men on both sides who wanted partisan action, but there were also many who were earnestly praying for the unity of the church. The question was, What shall be done about the deliverances of 1864? If they were enforced, some said, the Southern delegates would not be entitled to sit in the Assembly. The stated clerk, however, enrolled all the regularly commissioned Southern delegates. They were then, of course, largely in the majority.

This Assembly of 1866 was the first in which the voices of all the presbyteries had a chance to be mingled into one expression. Its deliverance, which was written by the Rev. J.C. Provine, D.D., then editor of the Banner of Peace, and offered by Milton Bird, was as follows:

Whereas, According to the plain teaching of our Confession of Faith, "synods and councils are to handle and conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical, and are not to interfere with the affairs of the commonwealth;" and,

Whereas, It is of momentous interest to the church to recognize practically, as well as in theory, the great truth taught by the Savior, viz.: That his kingdom is not of this world; therefore, Resolved,

1.--That this General Assembly is opposed to every movement, coming from any quarter, that looks to a union of church and State.

[406] 2.--That we are opposed to the prostitution of the pulpit, the religious press, or our ecclesiastical courts to the accomplishment of political and sectional purposes.

3.--That any expression of political sentiment made by any judicatory of our church, north, south, east, or west, is unnecessary, and no part of the legitimate business of an ecclesiastical court.

4.--That nothing in the foregoing shall be construed into an expression of opinion upon slavery and rebellion.

There were 112 votes in favor of this deliverance, and 40 against it.

The next fall the Pennsylvania Synod passed the following resolutions asking the General Assembly to explain or modify this action:

Whereas, The Cumberland Presbyterian Church did, in the adoption of its form of government and discipline under the title of "The Form of Government and Discipline of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in these United States, under their care," recognize the duty of submission to the general government, as the supreme civil power; declaring also that "they who, under pretense of Christian liberty, shall oppose any lawful power, or the lawful exercise of it, resist the ordinance of God," and that such persons "may lawfully be called to account and proceeded against by the censures of the church;" and,

Whereas, The General Assembly of 1864, in the exercise of its declared authority for "reproving, warning, or bearing testimony against error in doctrine or immorality in practice," did declare those voluntarily engaged in the late rebellion against the government of the United States to be guilty of great sin, and the General Assembly of 1865 reaffirmed this deliverance against the sin of rebellion; and

Whereas, The late General Assembly which met at Owensboro, Kentucky, passed certain resolutions, sometimes styled the "final action," which are now claimed by many who voted for them to be, in effect, a repeal of the deliverances of 1864 in regard to the sin of rebellion; and,

Whereas, These resolutions, from their own ambiguity as to their intended bearing on the deliverance of 1864, are the occasion of much difference of view as to their import, engendering strife and confusion, and threatening to divide the church; and,

Whereas, The late General Assembly, which met at Owensboro, Kentucky, is considered by many of our people not to have been a constitutional Assembly, in that it admitted to seats, as is alleged, certain members who had not a constitutional right to membership in that body because of the disorganized condition of the presbyteries from which they [407] came, the action of the Assembly of 1865 respecting the reorganization of such presbyteries being, as it appears, entirely disregarded; therefore, Resolved,

1.--That we respectfully memorialize the General Assembly, to meet in 1867, and that it is hereby memorialized to investigate the question of the legality of the representation from disorganized presbyteries in the General Assembly of 1866.

2.--That the action of the late Assembly is in effect a nullification of the deliverance of 1864, leaving the church without any record against the sins of slavery and rebellion, and justly chargeable with approving slavery and rebellion, both because it has nullified a deliverance against these sins, and because that nullification was demanded by its advocates on the ground that slavery is right in itself and that the rebellion was not wrong.

3.--That as a synod we hereby solemnly and unequivocally declare our adherence to the deliverance of 1864 against the sins of slavery and rebellion.

4.--That we hereby memorialize the General Assembly which is to meet in 1867 to declare unequivocally whether or not the deliverance of 1864 still stands as the declared and unmodified position of the church on the question of slavery and rebellion.

5.--That should the next Assembly refuse to reaffirm the deliverance of 1864, or to adopt such an expression as will fairly and unequivocally recognize that deliverance, in its substance, as the record of the church against the sins of slavery and rebellion, that we will then, in common with others who adhere to that deliverance, claim to be the true Cumberland Presbyterian Church in the United States.

This called forth from the Assembly of 1867, at Memphis, Tennessee, the following deliverance:

Whereas, There exists some doubts about the bearing of the last General Assembly's utterances on those of former Assemblies on the subjects of slavery and rebellion; therefore,

Resolved, That while the decisions of the General Assembly are of high authority, they can not become a law, binding upon all the churches, so as to set up a test of church membership, unless they are referred to the presbyteries, and there approved. Hence, such decisions are not subjects of repeal, and the decisions of last Assembly did not repeal the decisions of former Assemblies on the subjects above named, nor did they acknowledge their authority, but simply disclaimed all jurisdiction over such questions.

There were only two dissenting voices to this resolution, and they afterward withdrew their opposition. So, with the full con [408] sent of all the Southern members, the deliverances of 1864 stand on the records as the opinion of all those who voted for them, and all who chose to conform to them. Their moral force, whatever it may be, is not a subject for repeal. They are a part of the history of the times, and, like all other utterances, a part of the records which are to come before the last appellate court, when the final Judge assembles the universe to the last as sizes.

But some in Pennsylvania and elsewhere were still dissatisfied, and a memorial called up the subject in the Assembly of 1868, at Lincoln, Illinois. That Assembly adopted the following report:

Your Committee on Overtures have had under serious and prayerful consideration a memorial, signed by a number of brethren of the ministry and eldership, asking of "your reverend body to declare and affirm the following propositions as the principles taught in our Confession of Faith, and the word of God:

"1.--That things secular and civil belong to the State.

"2.--That things moral and ecclesiastical belong to the church.

"3.--That in regard to things which are mixed, being partly secular and civil, and partly moral and ecclesiastical, the secular and civil aspects belong to the State, but the moral and ecclesiastical aspects belong to the church.

"4.--That it is the prerogative of the church of Christ to sanction correct morals, to express its views through the pulpit, the press, and the various judicatures, on all moral questions, regardless of civil codes or political creeds." While your committee appreciate fully the sincerity and earnest desire of your memorialists, we can not recommend the adoption of the precise language of said memorial, as being in harmony with your Confession of Faith, and the word of God. At least it is so liable to misconstruction that it would be unsafe as the form of a rule of practice.

We respectfully recommend the adoption of the following answer to said memorial:

1.--The Confession of Faith is a much clearer statement of civil jurisdiction than the first proposition of the memorial. See chapter 23, section 3. "Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the word and sacraments, or the powers of the keys of the kingdom of heaven; or in the least interfere in matters of faith. Yet as nursing fathers, it is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the church of our common Lord, without giving the preference to any denomination of Christians above the rest, in such manner that all ecclesiastical persons whatever shall enjoy the full, free, and unquestioned liberty of [409] discharging every part of their sacred functions, without violence or danger. And, as Jesus Christ hath appointed a regular government and discipline in his church, no law of any commonwealth should interfere with, let, or hinder the due exercise thereof among the voluntary members of any denomination of Christians, according to their own profession and belief. It is the duty of civil magistrates to protect the person and good name of all their people in such an effectual manner as that no person be suffered, either upon pretense of religion or of infidelity, to offer any indignity, violence, abuse, or injury to any person whatsoever, and to take order that all religious and ecclesiastical assemblies be held without molestation or disturbance." See also accompanying scripture, II Chronicles 26:18.

2.--Your committee are of opinion that the second proposition of the memorial is not respectful to the State, as a power ordained of God. For while the pulpit, press, and ecclesiastic courts have jurisdiction over all molal and ecclesiastic questions, there are many moral questions over which the State has jurisdiction also.

3.--Many questions have arisen and doubtless will arise, which must be divided, the church considering and acting upon such parts of said questions as come within her jurisdiction. And while she is to be free and untrammeled in her teaching and adjudication, she must be wise and prudent, and will find ample instructions in her just and scriptural standards. See Confession of Faith, chapter 31, sections 2, 4. "It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially, to determine controversies of faith and cases of conscience, to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the worship of God, and government of his church, to receive complaints in cases of mal-administration, and authoritatively to determine the same; which decrees and determinations, if consonant with the word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission, not only for their agreement with the word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God, appointed thereunto in his word." "Synods and councils are to handle or conclude nothing but that which is ecclesiastical; and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs, which concern the commonwealth; unless by way of humble petition, in cases extraordinary, or by way of advice for satisfaction of conscience, if they be there unto required by the civil magistrate." See also Luke 12:13,14; John 28:36. Also, Form of Government, chapter 7, section 2. "These assemblies ought not to possess any civil jurisdiction, nor to inflict any civil penalties. Their power is wholly moral and spiritual, and that only ministerial and declarative. They possess the right of requiring obedience to the laws of Christ, and of excluding the disobedient and disorderly from the privileges of the church."

[410] 4.--Your committee agree fully with your memorialists in the expressions of the fourth proposition, except the phrase, "of civil codes." Your committee are of opinion, that while it is the prerogative and duty of the church to reprove and rebuke sin, and approve and establish all righteousness and true holiness, she should not put herself in an attitude of defiance, or disregard for the civil laws of the land.

This was the last action on the war issues, and seems to have given universal satisfaction.

Before closing this chapter it seems proper to speak briefly of the relations of Cumberland Presbyterians to slavery. Though the church had its origin in a slave State, and though its greatest strength has always been in the South, yet the author of this book never knew an extreme pro-slavery man among its members. There were doubtless some before the war who believed that slavery was justifiable; but most of these looked upon it as a means of educating the negro and preparing him for ultimate freedom, and all held that it was a solemn duty to labor for the spiritual salvation of the slaves. Much the larger number believed slavery to be an evil and a curse which had been at first thrust upon the people without their consent, and against their protest, and then handed down from father to son. But they denied their responsibility for the deeds of a past generation. They believed in restoring the negro to his rights, but they held that the whole case, with all its surrounding facts, should be considered, and that method of restoration selected which promised the least mischief and the largest advantages to both races. Many advocated the gradual colonization of the slaves in Liberia, or elsewhere. Nearly all admitted that there were under the existing laws, cases in which humanity and religion both made it necessary to hold men in bondage, and that in such cases, if the slaves were properly treated, there was no sin involved. But a majority of our people, South as well as North, would have rejoiced to see all the negroes peacefully emancipated.

Of the three ministers who organized the first presbytery of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Ewing was the only one who owned slaves, and he emancipated them.(3) Besides this noble act, he also boldly wrote and preached against "the traffic in human [411] flesh." He lived all his days in the slave States, and was the leading spirit in the first generation of Cumberland Presbyterians. In a published sermon(4) he says:

But where shall we begin? O is it indeed true that in this enlightened age, there are so many palpable evils in the church that it is difficult to know where to commence enumerating them? The first evil which I will mention is a traffic in human flesh and human souls. It is true that many professors of religion, and I fear some of my Cumberland brethren, do not scruple to sell for life their fellow-beings, some of whom are brethren in the Lord. And what is worse, they are not scrupulous to whom they sell, provided they can obtain a better price. Sometimes husbands and wives, parents and children are thus separated, and I doubt not their cries reach the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. ... Others who constitute a part of the visible church half feed, half clothe, and oppress their servants. Indeed, they seem by their conduct toward them, not to consider them fellow-beings. And it is to be feared that many of them are taking no pains at all to give their servants religious instruction of any kind, and especially are they making no efforts to teach them or cause them to be taught to read that Book which testifies of Jesus, whilst others permit, perhaps require, their servants to work, cook, etc., while the white people are praying around the family altar.

The church papers also contained many communications of a similar character from his pen. He says:

I have determined not to hold,(5) nor to give, nor to sell, nor to buy any slave for life. Mainly from the influence of that passage of God's word which says, "Masters give unto your servants that which is just and equal."

McAdow was not an aggressive man, but he was thoroughly opposed to slavery; and, lest his own family should become involved in it, he moved away from Tennessee to Illinois. While always charitable toward Southern people, he hesitated not to speak out against the institution which so long oppressed the country.

That there were individual members of our church that may have been guilty of all the unholy practices which Finis Ewing here condemns is not called in question. There have also been members of all churches guilty of adultery and of other great crimes, [412] but that is a very different thing from advocating and defending such crimes.

Some Cumberland Presbyterian preachers who inherited slaves were greatly perplexed to know what was their duty. Ephraim McLean, the first minister that was ordained in the church, believed his negroes incapable of freedom, yet desired to be rid of slave-holding. He laid out a farm, built a house, gave his negroes stock and tools and told them to go free. In a few years, drunkenness and idleness brought them to suffering, and they came to McLean, begging him to take them back, which he did.(6)

Robert Donnell puts on record a prayer and a vow,(7) in which he asks the Lord to let him know what is his duty in regard to the negroes, whom he has inherited; and he solemnly promises, no matter what the sacrifice, faithfully to perform the Lord's bidding. During his whole life he gathered all his servants at family prayers daily; and spent a season in instructing them in spiritual things. His negroes were unwilling to be sent away to Liberia. The laws of his own State did not allow emancipated slaves to remain there. In just such straits were thousands of conscientious men who became slave owners without their own consent. Some kept up the outward appearance of saintliness by selling the poor negroes, perhaps to heartless slave drivers, but a far better class did as Donnell did; kept the negroes and treated them as a Christian should. Donnell's overseer used regularly to complain that Donnell stood between him and the negroes under his charge, and kept the whole plantation waiting morning and evening for his protracted family worship.

In Dr. Beard's diary I find many anti-slavery records. He declares it to be his opinion that his negroes (inherited) were incapable of taking care of themselves. He thinks them a trust committed to his hands for whom he will be held responsible as much as for his own minor children. July 11th, 1855, he makes this entry: "About ten o'clock word came to me that one of my servants, who is hired out, was lying out. This is one of the curses of slavery, and the longer I live the more deeply I regret that I ever became [413] involved in it. My heart always hated it, and now, loathes it more and more every day."

There were many cases in which the demands of humanity and religion forced antislavery men living South to become slave owners. Take one case. A Southern preacher of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, who had resolved never to become mixed up with the curse, saw the day when his own father's slaves were levied on for his father's debts. These negroes were the playmates of his childhood. His old father was heart-broken about the matter. While this preacher had money enough to pay for the negroes, he did not have enough to meet any thing like all his father's debts. To pay out what money he had on these debts and leave the negroes still the property of his father would leave them to fall again into the hands of the sheriff and the negro trader. The horror with

which slaves generally regarded negro traders passes all description. In this case the laws of the State did not allow the emancipation of slaves unless they could be taken out of the State. These negroes were consulted, and declared that they would rather die than be taken away, either to Canada or Liberia. What they longed for and prayed for was to be allowed to remain with their old master. So the preacher bought them and left them living in their old home with his parents, where they remained till the end of the war, and longer too. This case, which is no fiction, is a typical one. Many Southern men similarly situated, are now, with a quiet conscience, awaiting the awards of the last solemn tribunal.

From 1830 to 1836 our church paper at Nashville not only denounced slavery and the rigid legislation of some of the Southern States, but it was also fiercely attacked by the political papers of the South on this account. The paper was the Revivalist. Some extracts will show what was its attitude on this question. Lowry, Smith, and Anderson all wrote editorials for it.


The legislature of South Carolina, at its last session, enacted a law imposing a fine of not more than one hundred dollars, and imprisonment not more than six months, upon any person who shall be found guilty of teaching a slave to read or write! Or if a free person of color be convicted of the like crime, he must be whipped not exceeding fifty [414] lashes, and fined not more than fifty dollars! It further provides, that any person employing a man of color as a salesman or clerk, shall be subject to a fine of one hundred dollars and six months' imprisonment! Such enactments are foul blots upon the records of a free people, which our posterity will blush to behold. They are not only unjust and cruel but actually impolitic--such laws do not even deserve the name of time-serving policy. We are aware that the notion prevails to some extent that it diminishes the value of a slave to teach him to read; and some are so credulous as to believe that religious instruction, yea, the possession of the spirit of Christ, will injure slaves. Those who entertain the latter sentiment, it will be granted, are themselves ignorant--grossly ignorant--of the nature and tendency of the religion of Christ, and we must think that those who oppose teaching servants to read the Bible and other religious books, are equally ignorant of the influence of such instruction upon their minds. The extensive slave-holder is at too great a remove from the slave to learn the workings of his mind and the feelings of his heart. There is no contact of feeling, no interchange of sympathies between most Southern planters and their servants. They govern, control, and direct their labors by proxy; and too many masters are dependent upon the representations of heartless overseers for a knowledge of the character and disposition of their own slaves. Southern planters who govern by proxy, are, therefore, unprepared to do justice to the African character. Men who have, through life, been in more immediate contact with the slave, are better qualified to render an impartial judgment. And, notwithstanding all that has been or may be said or enacted to the contrary, from long acquaintance with educated and uneducated slaves, from experience in imparting instruction, from extensive observation, from all the facts we have been enabled to collect, we are fully persuaded that ability to read, and especially a disposition therewith to read the Scriptures, so far from diminishing, adds to the value of a slave.

This position is tenable from principles of sound reason. Any gentleman wishing to purchase a slave with the design of retaining him as a servant, would give ten percent more for one of good moral character, in whose integrity he could confide, than he would for another possessing equal bodily powers and dexterity, yet destitute of moral character. Well, what is so well calculated to improve and mature the morals as ability and disposition to read the volume of inspiration, and other religious books? It would be most impious infidelity to deny the adaptedness of divine truth to induce and confirm moral habits. In fact it is the only antidote to corruption, the only conservator of personal or public morals; and as slaves are most exposed at least to certain descriptions of vice, they most need its restraining and conservative influence.

[415] Teach your slaves to read, and give them moral and religious instruction, and they will not only be better men but better servants. We speak what we know, and have seen demonstrated by actual experiment, and in the assertion we are sustained by reason and revelation. To assume the opposite is a departure from reason, and an approach to infidelity. If indeed slavery is incompatible with the ability and privilege of reading the Scriptures and receiving religious instruction, then it is as heinous in the sight of Heaven as idolatry or priest craft. No circumstances whatever can justify the master in withholding from his servants a knowledge of the Scriptures; wherein alone life and immortality are brought to light. Doubtless, it was for this very purpose that God, in the depth of his councils, suffered the poor African to be brought into bondage, intending by the subjection of his person to bring him under the influence of the gospel, and thereby free his immortality from the dark cloisters of gross superstition, and if so, woe to that man or legislature that denies the African the light and hope of the gospel. If you would not provoke the God of heaven to entail upon us worse than Egyptian plagues, and lead out the oppressed by the hand of a second Moses, don't withhold from the African religious instruction.

Later the same paper contained the following:


Some time since, we published, without note or comment, a communication from a "Mississippi Planter," calling for a reputable evangelical preacher, of any denomination, to be sent to that State, to itinerate and preach the gospel to the slave population. The planter pledged himself for fifty dollars, and gave some assurance that five hundred could be raised for the support of such a missionary. We find the said communication in a recent number of the Western Weekly Review, preceded by the following editorial:


"We quote the following article from the Nashville Revivalist for the purpose of raising a warning voice against the proposed measure. Far be it from us to say aught against the diffusing of light and intelligence, or against ameliorating the condition of any of our species, but let it be remembered that there is a time and place for all things; and circumstances to be considered in all cases. The "Mississippi planters" have no desire to see the terrible tragedies of Saint Domingo and Southampton re-enacted amongst themselves; and to such a result the mission proposed below must inevitably lead. We speak what we know."

We think that, for once, the editor of the Review has gone a little too far and spoken more than he "knows." How does he "know" that [416] the "proposed mission" would "inevitably lead" to such results in Mississippi as the "terrible tragedies of Saint Domingo and Southampton?" Does he "know" that the gospel of peace will produce strife, excite discontent and rebellion? Will that gospel which teaches servants to obey their masters, prompt them to rebellion? Were the terrible tragedies of Saint Domingo and Southampton the results of the gospel? Does not universal experience prove that when a slave becomes truly pious, he is ever afterward a more obedient servant than he was before? Does not the editor of the Review know that missions among the slave population in South Carolina and Georgia have been and are now being attended by the best of consequences? That the slave-holders in those States testify to their good effects upon the slaves, and that such missions have received their decided approbation? Many Southern planters have erected meeting-houses for their slaves, and solicit preaching every Sabbath, or as often as they can procure the services of the missionaries. The editor does not "know" that preaching the gospel to the slaves in Mississippi will lead to such results as the tragedies of Saint Domingo and Southampton. We believe he is sincere, but think his fears have outrun his knowledge, and therefore he has been induced to lift up his "warning voice." We apprehend no such bloody results, but believe that the gospel is the best and only sure preventive of rebellion; and in our estimation the Mississippi planters would promote their own interests and security by employing all judicious means to evangelize the slave population.

The Cumberland Presbyterian, of Nashville, Tennessee, August 19, 1835, says: "We proclaim it abroad we do not own slaves. We never shall. We long to see the black man free and happy, and thousands of Christians who now hold them in bondage entertain the same sentiments." The same editor constantly advocated gradual emancipation, and urged on masters the duty of preparing their servants for freedom.

It is proper, however, to state that all these things underwent great changes after slavery entered into the bitter political struggles of the country. Just what the feelings or views of Cumberland Presbyterians were during the years just preceding the war, or what their relations were to the bitter political questions of the times, this history does not undertake to discuss. Two of the General Assemblies held during the period named, one at Memphis, Tennessee, in 1848, and the other at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1851, adopted reports directly relating to slavery, and these two [417] deliverances perhaps indicate what was at that time the prevailing sentiment of our people.

The action of 1848 was called out by the minutes of the Pennsylvania Synod. That synod, at its meeting in 1847, had rescinded "a resolution passed at the preceding session declaring the relation existing between the synod and American slavery to be such as required her to take no action thereon," and had proceeded to take action in these words.

Resolved, That the system of slavery in the United States is contrary to the principles of the gospel, hinders the progress thereof, and ought to be abolished.

The synodical minutes containing the resolution came up in the Assembly of 1848 for review, and were referred to a committee, consisting of the Rev. Hiram A. Hunter, of Kentucky, the Rev. A.H. Goodpasture, of Illinois, and Ruling Elder J.S. McLean, of Tennessee. This committee's report, which was concurred in by the Assembly, expressed regret at the synod's action, and disapprobation of "any attempt by judicatures of the church to agitate the exciting subject of slavery," closing with these words: "The tendency of such resolutions, if persisted in, we believe is to gender strife, produce distraction in the church, and thereby hinder the progress of the gospel.(8) In the General Assembly of 1851 "the moderator announced the reception of six memorials from persons residing in Ohio and Pennsylvania, numbering, in the aggregate, about one hundred and fifty, upon the subject of slavery."(9) The Committee on Overtures, to which these memorials were referred, submitted the following report:(10)

The church of God is a spiritual body, whose jurisdiction extends only to matters of faith and morals. She has no power to legislate upon subjects on which Christ and his apostles did not legislate, nor to establish terms of union, where they have given no express warrant. Your committee, therefore, believe that this question on which you are asked by the memorialists to take action, is one which belongs rather to civil than ecclesiastical legislation; and we are fully persuaded that legislation on that subject in any of the judicatories of the Church, instead of [418] mitigating the evils connected with slavery, will only have a tendency to alienate feeling between brethren; to engender strifes and animosities in your churches; and tend, ultimately to a separation between brethren who hold a common faith, an event leading, to the most disastrous results, and one which we believe ought to be deprecated by every true patriot and Christian.

But your committee believe that members of the church holding slaves should regard them as rational and accountable beings, and treat them as such, affording them as far as possible the means of grace. Finally, your committee would recommend the adoption of the following resolutions: Resolved,

1.--That inasmuch as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church was originally organized and has ever since existed and prospered under the conceded principle that slavery was not and should not be regarded as a bar to communion; we, therefore, believe that it should not now be so regarded.

2.--That, having entire confidence in the honesty and sincerity of the memorialists, and cherishing the tenderest regard for their feelings and opinions, it is the conviction of this General Assembly that the agitation of this question, which has already torn in sunder other branches of the church, can be productive of no real benefit to master or slave. We would, therefore, in the fear of God, and with the utmost solicitude for the peace and welfare of the churches under our care, advise a spirit of mutual forbearance and brotherly love; and, instead of censure and proscription, that we endeavor to cultivate a fraternal feeling one toward another.

The members of the committee, all of whom signed the report, were: the Rev. Lee Roy Woods, of Indiana; the Rev. A.J. Baird, of Kentucky; the Rev. J.J. Meek, of Mississippi; the Rev. N.P. Modrall, of Tennessee; the Rev. J.H. Coulter, of Ohio; the Rev. S.E. Hudson, of Pennsylvania; and Ruling Elder J.C. Henson, of Indiana.

As to the present attitude of our people in regard to the now old and thrice-dead slavery issue, the writer does not know a Cumberland Presbyterian of any section who is not heartily glad that the negro is free.

The fact that the church did not divide, even in those bitter times, when all the other Protestant churches of America were rent asunder, speaks with great power in favor of the Christian and conservative spirit of our people. The Cumberland Presbyterian [419] church is now, was during the war, and we trust will always be, national, not sectional; and it has to-day no members who look with more pride on our ecclesiastical unity than do those who fought under Lee and Bragg in 1863.

In one view of the case the church is specially indebted to its Southern membership for this unity. Most of the strength of the church was in the South, and neither in members nor church property would Southern Cumberland Presbyterians have been very great losers by setting up an independent establishment as the Southern Presbyterians did; but there were other things which they prized far more than members or property. One thing more is claimed to their special credit. When they were in the majority in the Assembly, and able to carry things their own way, they unanimously granted terms to our Northern membership, such as the Southern wing of the Presbyterian Church has steadfastly refused to accept from Northern Presbyterians. At no time in the last fifteen years would the Presbyterian Church have continued to be rent asunder, had the Southern wing thereof declared its willingness to accept a similar compromise.





This book has little to do with military records, but the history of the work of Cumberland Presbyterians for the salvation of souls, whether in Northern or Southern armies, ought to be interesting to us all. The man whose soul is too narrow to believe in a conversion because it was in the army which he called "the enemy," would do well to pass over this chapter. God loved the souls of men, whether they wore blue coats or gray, and who can doubt that there were earnest Christian men in both armies who fell in battle and winged their flight to heaven together? The heroism of Americans from both sections has become part of our common national heritage of glory.

The principal strength of our church lay in the South, and almost all the men in that section went to the army. Nearly all the youthful ministers from one section, and only a few comparatively from the other, marched with the soldiers during the four years of civil strife. There was, therefore, a much larger number of Cumberland Presbyterian chaplains in the Southern than in the Northern army. Of the services of the latter, only a meager account can now be obtained. It will, therefore, require more space to sketch the work of Southern than that of Northern chaplains. The limits of this volume do not permit the description of all the worthy actors, or important events. Only selections, and not a full history, can be given.

In one single Southern army--Bragg's--there were twenty Cumberland Presbyterian chaplains. All the other Southern armies [421] also had a considerable number. So far as the personal history of these men is known, they were every one faithful in the perilous duties which they had undertaken. Much of the material which has been collected for a history of their work can not be used in this short chapter.

No army missionaries were sent out by our church Boards of Missions. There might have been embarrassing questions attending any such an effort at that time. There was, however, a missionary committee in the South, organized after the war began, for the special purpose of prosecuting missionary work among the Southern soldiers. In the North the Christian Commission superseded the necessity for any special denominational organization for this kind of missionary effort. In both sections there was earnest work done by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church for the evangelization of the soldiers.

The call to preach to a regiment was sometimes made by the colonel, and sometimes by the united voice of the men composing the regiment. There were two very different methods pursued in taking converts into the church. The Northern chaplains and the chaplains in Lee's army had what they called an "Army Church." All except Catholics and Episcopalians cooperated in this organization. Converts became members in this undenominational church. "The Army of Tennessee" had a different arrangement. If there were under the charge of a Cumberland Presbyterian chaplain converts who wanted to join the Baptists, he sent for a Baptist chaplain to come and baptize them. Their names, with a certificate of the facts, were then sent to the home congregation. So of the adherents of all other churches, except Roman Catholics and Episcopalians. These generally refused to cooperate with the other chaplains.

The programme for work among the soldiers had to be shaped to meet the nature of the case. If a chaplain was a true man, he was to all intents the pastor of his regiment. All the spiritual oversight and care of persons which any pastor ever had at home, fell to his lot. He visited the messes. He held prayer-meetings for the regiment. He held private conferences with individuals about their spiritual interests. He distributed tracts and books. [422] He preached at regular times. But there were other spheres of duty peculiar to his station. During a battle his usual place was at the field hospital, or along with the litter corps, who carried the wounded back to the field hospital. To take down from the lips of the dying their last message to loved ones was a large part of his work in the midst of a battle. To point suffering and dying comrades to the Friend who was wounded for our transgressions was a still larger part of his work on those fields of blood. Then the chaplains had another and broader field of operations. There were chaplains' associations, where all consulted together about the general interests of the work. These associations had regular officers and regular meetings; and ministers of our own church took a prominent part in nearly all of them. The permanent chairman in the very largest of these associations was a Cumberland Presbyterian. Another duty which some of the chaplains felt called upon to fulfill, was to preach against "official sins "--not the sins of "the enemy," but the sins of their own generals, and even of the official head of the government which they recognized. In the South, at least, there were instances in which Cumberland Presbyterian chaplains took such a bold stand in the presence of the very parties arraigned, that their friends expected to see them put under arrest or punished in some still severer manner. On one such occasion, after the chaplain had boldly denounced, in the presence of all the leading generals of "the Army of Tennessee," some of the official sins of those very generals, and had taken his seat in the pulpit, General Leonidas Polk rose to his feet, walked up to the pulpit, seized the chaplain by the hand, and said, with deep feeling: "Sir, I thank you for your fidelity this day."

It was next to impossible for a chaplain to do denominational work in the camps. A few tried it and came to grief. The soldiers would not tolerate any man who undertook sectarian work among them. No other work of the churches, not even missions to the heathen, has ever been more efficient in breaking down sectarian feeling. Two chaplains had worked side by side for twelve months when one of them, a Cumberland Presbyterian, learned with surprise that the other was a New School Presbyterian; up to that time he had thought his companion a Methodist. A chaplain [423] (Cumberland Presbyterian) was sent for by a wealthy lady of the Episcopalian Church. Her words to him were substantially these: "I have seen the time when I would have preferred risking the death of my boy out of the church to having him placed under the instruction of any minister who is not an Episcopalian; but I have got past that. My son is in your regiment. I am looking daily to hear of his falling in battle. He is not ready to die. I want you to see him and talk to him about his soul's salvation, and I ask you to press the matter upon him at once."

Some samples of the work of Cumberland Presbyterian ministers in connection with the Union armies are presented first. The Rev. A.W. White and the Rev. G.N. Mattox, of Pennsylvania, spent a brief period working under the United States Christian Commission. Their brief services produced very valuable results. It is recorded of these two men that, among other good deeds, they interposed to prevent mistreatment of prisoners. They preached Jesus to prisoners as well as to the soldiers in blue. At Decatur, Alabama, they secured a room and raised their flag. Here they held regular prayer-meetings with good results. There were inquirers after the way of salvation, and conversions in considerable numbers in this room under the preaching of these missionaries. Mr. White mentions with gratitude the fact that those who had been out on picket duty came in and reported at the prayer-meeting that a great revival was going on at the same time in the Confederate army. Thus God was at work on both sides of the hostile lines.

One day Mr. Mattox found in the hospital a little boy whose right shoulder was shattered by a piece of shell. Talking with this child about his soul, he soon learned that the boy had run away from a Christian mother in Vermont. Mattox prayed with him and labored for him till he saw bright evidences of conversion. The child's first desire then was that Mattox should write the good news to his mother. This was done. For a wonder the boy recovered apparently, and for a while made a hearty worker for the souls of other soldiers. He then relapsed and died, and his death occurred about the same time that Mattox also sickened and died. This was the introduction to a warm correspondence between the boy's mother, in Vermont, and the preacher's mother, in Pennsyl [424] vania. A volume might be filled with similar incidents. In many cases, too, the parties who were brought into communication by such incidents belonged to different sides of the great contest. Among Dr. Beard's literary remains are several intensely interesting letters of this class.

A curious thing about Mattox is that he had felt himself specially called to the work of a foreign missionary. It does not detract any thing from our confidence in the divine origin of the call, to see that God himself thwarted its accomplishment. God called Abraham to offer up Isaac, but God never intended to let Abraham carry the work farther than a certain fixed point. God calls men to preach, and sometimes takes them home to heaven before they deliver their first sermon.

Chaplain A.G. Osborn, of Pennsylvania, published a letter addressed to Union Presbytery, from which this extract is made:

I can, through the mercy of God, my dear brethren, assure you that the great Head of the church has not left himself without witnesses even here, amid army scenes and battle strife. During nearly the whole of this winter there have been reviving influences in our camps. About three hundred persons have professed faith in Christ. I can say that a great change has taken place in my own regiment. Our camp, it is true, has a great deal of wickedness in it yet; but, thank the Lord, many who but recently were numbered among blasphemers and Sabbath-breakers, are now enrolled among the names constituting our regimental church, or "Christian League," as it is more fitly denominated. One remarkable feature in the case is the fact that nearly every one in the Fourteenth Regiment that has made a profession has taken up the cross, and prays in public. I know of but one or two exceptions. We now have a chapel tent erected. The Christian Commission on my application, furnished the canvas to cover it, and our soldiers labored with a good will to get it built. It is comfortably seated, and has a stove in it. There has been meeting in it nearly every night since it was built, and every Sabbath we have two services.

A.G. OSBORN, Chaplain Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry.

Martinsburg, West Virginia, March 21, 1864.

The Rev. H.H. Ashmore served long and faithfully as chaplain in an Illinois regiment. He furnishes some interesting incidents. He says that in all the protracted intercourse with Cumberland Presbyterians, which the long sojourn of his regiment in the South [425] enabled him to hold, he met with no one of them who did not earnestly desire the preservation of the ecclesiastical unity of the church. That his observations on this subject were in keeping with the general facts in the case will be seen from the proceedings of the conventions discussed in a former chapter. This fact, and that other precious fact that we stood undivided through the war which rent other churches asunder, is a valuable proof of the power of that spiritual legacy which has always constituted our noblest denominational heritage. It was Milton Bird who, in a sermon in 1864, after pointing out the evils of disruption, uttered the following noble words: "If, on the other hand, we can show to the world a church which is able through divine grace to rise above all the passions of this furious war, and stand bound together in holy unity by a divine bond which no national strife can sunder, then truly may we put forth an argument for the divinity of Christianity which infidelity can not overthrow."

At the battle of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, Chaplain Ashmore was worn down by work with wounded men. Late at night, utterly exhausted, he sank down upon a log, rested his head upon what he supposed was a fallen limb of a tree, and sank to sleep. On awaking in the morning, he found that his pillow was the amputated leg of some poor soldier. Ashmore testifies that the dying soldiers, however wicked they had been in life, died calling on the name of God. "My mother," "my wife," "my country," "my God," were the words oftenest on the dying lips of those over whose last moments the army chaplains kept watch.

While Ashmore's regiment was at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, some very sore trials pressed upon the chaplains. They met together once to consult about disbanding and going home in a body, but the proposition was not carried out. Instead of going home they began a series of meetings. God blessed their efforts. A revival began and spread far through that portion of the army. Ashmore was an active worker in this revival, and it was estimated that one thousand persons were converted before this series of meetings closed.

The venerable Hiram A. Hunter, who had been a member of General Andrew Jackson's body-guard in the war of 1812, and was [426] in his sixty-first year when the late civil war began, was a chaplain in the Federal army. Neither in his diary nor in his very full autobiography (MSS.) does he give any details of his work as chaplain, except the texts he used, and the dates of certain transactions.

The Rev. J.W. Woods served as chaplain of the Fifth Illinois Regiment from September, 1861, till the close of the war. Like many others he was regularly elected by the men of the regiment before receiving any military appointment. For several months he was detailed to special work among the colored people who flocked to the army. He diligently circulated Bibles, tracts, and papers among the soldiers, besides doing all the other regular work usually done by chaplains. He was with his regiment at Vicksburg, and his labors there resulted in many conversions. Three of these converts afterward entered the ministry.

The Rev. S. Richards, D.D., was also chaplain throughout the war, but no account of his labors has been secured.

As to the work in the Southern army, a few selections carefully made are here presented in order to illustrate different features of that work. A large volume would be needed to furnish a full history.

About the time the chaplains of the army under General Rosecrans were consulting as to the propriety of disbanding and going home, the chaplains in Bragg's army were in consultation over the same kind of a proposition. A meeting of all the chaplains in that army had been called to consider the question of resigning and going home en masse. The feeling was quite common that war and religion were incompatible, and that no good could be accomplished by preaching to soldiers. A few of the chaplains responded to the call. After the proposition to abandon the chaplains' work had been made and discussed for a few minutes, the Rev. Mr. Milligan, of the Baptist church, offered some resolutions to the following effect:


1.--That the souls of this vast multitude are too precious to be abandoned to perdition.

2.--That God is able to give his own called ministers the victory even among soldiers.

3.--That the chaplains should enter into a covenant to pray for each other, and that all should at once begin protracted meetings in their several regiments, claiming this whole army for the King of kings.

[427] These resolutions were adopted. One week from that day the chaplains met again to report results. The number present was much larger than on the former occasion. The bowed heads were lifted up. Every chaplain who had entered into the covenant one week before, reported that a revival had already begun in his regiment. This work of grace went on till the armies of the Confederacy were disbanded.

One of these Chaplains was the Rev. George L. Winchester, of the Madison Presbytery, of our church. He was eminently fitted for a chaplain's work. After entering into this covenant, he went back to his regiment and began his series of meetings. The next week he reported a wonderful revival in progress, with great demand for more preaching. Various regiments were destitute of chaplains. Winchester began a series of services in one of these, besides continuing the meetings in his own regiment. Forgetting that his body was mortal, or ceasing to care for its mortality, he carried on this double service for a considerable time, until, in the midst of his labors, he suddenly fell and was gone to heaven before his fellow chaplains knew that he was ill. His regiment was like a faintly of orphans, mourning a father's death. Nearly all of them had been led to Jesus by Winchester. When they selected a new chaplain the principal point was to find a man whom Winchester had loved and indorsed.

An exchanged prisoner who had belonged to that regiment returned to it after Winchester's death. He took out his deck of cards, and went to some of his old companions to have a game. They all declined, stating that they had become Christians. He went to others with the same result. He made the trial in every mess of the whole regiment, Without finding a single one to join him. With a bitter oath he said. "The whole regiment has got religion."

Mention has been made of the Cumberland Presbyterian Southern Committee, on army missions. This committee resolved to raise a salary to secure a general missionary for "the Army of Tennessee," to whose hands they might commit a sort of supervision of missionary work among the soldiers. Three failures were made before a suitable man was obtained; and finally one of the chaplains [428] was induced to resign and take this missionary work instead of his chaplaincy. Under his management, after he entered on this general work, money was raised to secure the Rev. J.L. Cooper, of Mississippi, as a general army missionary, and Cooper accepted. Besides this, several other arrangements were made for missions among the soldiers. The location of the missionary committee was changed from the army of Tennessee to Selma, Alabama, in 1864, and under its direction, aided by the superintendent, money was raised and still other missionaries secured.

Mr. Cooper was pre-eminently fitted for the missionary work, and he devoted himself to it from 1863 till the end of the war with an energy and fidelity that were never surpassed. For four months and five days he held meetings on the lines, under fire, every night except one. At every meeting his congregations were measured only by the compass of his voice. When men could not approach near enough to hear they would go away. This was during Joe Johnston's retreat through North Georgia. The one night when there was no meeting the army marched all night. Nor was Cooper the only one who had services every night. The work was general along all the lines. There were fourteen miles of revivals nightly and multitudes of conversions.

The programme of exercises agreed on by all the cooperating chaplains in this army was as follows: First, at the opening of the services all those who had found the Savior were called up to ascertain what church they desired to join. At Cooper's meetings the number responding to this call was about one hundred per night. The next item in the program me was to call up all who were seeking salvation. To this invitation a still larger number always responded. Then a sermon of instruction was preached, specially to the seekers. Then the congregation was dismissed. At every service during this bloody retreat, some were present who would be killed before the next meeting. Many found Jesus during the sermon; some after they went out into the picket holes. These holes were very near the enemy, and the pickets had to be relieved at midnight, and there were always men killed in this work of relieving pickets. One poor fellow gave the following account of his conversion, He went from the preaching service to [429] picket duty. Getting down into his picket hole, and thinking of the sermon, still eagerly seeking salvation, he felt the light dawn upon his soul. Forgetting all about war and its dangers, he raised himself up and shouted, "Glory to God." Just then a minie-ball cut away a lock of his hair, grazing the scalp. Down into his hole he crept again, but his soul was too full of joy to suffer him long to keep in mind minie-balls, and in a little while he again rose up shouting. Another bullet went through his clothing. So he said he "spent the night alternately praising God and dodging the devil." On being questioned what he meant by "dodging the devil," he said: "It is my opinion that his satanic majesty was angry about losing my soul and I believe he rode astraddle of every one of those balls, but the Lord would not let them hit me."

The Rev. Mr. Baker, of Missouri, a Cumberland Presbyterian, was standing on the breast works preaching. In his sermon he was crying, "Glory to God," when a ball struck him and killed him instantly. Old men, past military age, were army chaplains. Rev. J.F. McCutcheon, of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, was one of these. I saw this old man when his garments were riddled with bullets, for he always went along with his men wherever duty called him, but bullets were more merciful than some other things. General Bragg, a few days before he was removed from the command of "the Army of Tennessee," issued an order to have all his chaplains' horses pressed for military uses. Ministers of the gospel were exempted from conscription in "Dixie," but men who were far past the military age were in the chaplain work. The Confederate government furnished no horses to chaplains. Bragg's order paid no respect to age. Old men like McCutcheon were robbed by it of their private property, except where some generous officer, like George Johnson, who was allowed several horses, claimed the chaplain's horse, and kept it for its owner. Ah well! the way Bragg left Missionary Ridge, a few days after that order about the chaplains' horses, always seemed to me to be a special retribution.

One little incident connected with this missionary work is too good to be lost. A pocket-book was sent to our missionary committee accompanied with the following statement: "The good sister who sent it is a widow. Her husband was killed by the frag [430] The trials of southern Chaplains were very great. The mess tax, which was imposed to eke out sufficient rations, was generally larger than a chaplain's salary. It would require a month and a half's wages of a chaplain to buy a pound of coffee, and about two years' wages to buy an overcoat. The price of a good horse was more than any chaplain earned during the whole war. Yet there were chaplains who wore out as many as five horses while they were in the service. The Southern government furnished neither horses nor clothing to chaplains. It was not an uncommon thing for chaplains and soldiers to be brought to great suffering both for rations and for clothing.

Chaplain M.B. DeWitt, now the Rev. Dr. DeWitt, of Nashville, Tennessee, had some severe trials. the country where his home had been, and where he had left his wife, was invaded. When the state of things became unbearable there, Mrs. DeWitt, like thousands of others, became a refugee. Having no other place to fly to, she went to the camps, and remained near her husband through all those dreadful last struggles of the Confederate army. DeWitt was one of that class of chaplains whose call to the work came first from the men of the regiment, not from the colonel. Of course his official nomination had to be made by the colonel.

Chaplains with the cavalry had a peculiar lot. Their only place during a battle was with their regiments. Chaplain A.G. Burrow was one of these. He was wounded, and came to the writer's tent. It was winter and bitter cold. The wounded chaplain had no overcoat. His other coat was thin and ragged. All his clothing was worn out. His wound was in his head, and his skull had just been trepanned. His face was the color of a corpse. He staggered as he walked. His voice, once so quick and cheerful, was faint and faltering. The wound was four inches long. Yet this man, who might have had a comfortable home under his father's roof--who, both by reason of his profession, and on account of his wound, [431] might have found exemption from further service--chose rather to remain as chaplain with the soldiers, and continue his efforts to lead them to their Savior. (Acts 20:24.)

Many other chaplains deserve as favorable notice as those mentioned in the foregoing sketches, but as it would require a large volume to give a full history of all, only such illustrations have been selected as the most reliable materials at hand furnish. There were other Cumberland Presbyterian preachers who gave their lives up, as G.L. Winchester gave his, a willing sacrifice for the salvation of the soldiers. Sharing the privations and dangers of siege or battle, eating mule beef at Vicksburg, or marching all night in the mad raids, and, when the fight came on, following along the battle's fiery front to pick up the wounded and carry them back to the field hospital; then returning to the line to bend over the dying, and there, on the bloody field, to write their last message to loved ones at home, while shells hurtled and minie-balls whistled thick around them, were some of the tasks and duties which fell to the lot of our army missionaries.

In the wonderful revival in the Southern armies the number of conversions must have reached an aggregate of more than a hundred thousand men. Dr. Felix Johnson, now gone to his rest, once said, while this work was going on: "God is going to answer all these prayers and fast-days which the people of the South are having--not by setting up a new Republic, but by converting all the Southern soldiers." At two different times, by two different men, an extensive history of this great revival was prepared, many years ago, but, for unknown reasons neither of these works was ever published. No history of the great conflict can be complete without an account of this wonderful work of grace.





Before the war there were twenty thousand colored Cumberland Presbyterians. These all belonged to the same congregations of which the white people were members, and were under the ministrations of the same preachers who served the white congregations. While there were instances in the South in which white men built separate churches for their slaves and hired for them separate pastors, yet there were no such instances among the Cumberland Presbyterians. In our church colored members everywhere attended the same services with the white people. It is true that separate seats were appropriated to them, but white people and black were taught the way of salvation by the same pastors. In addition to this privilege of attending services along with the white people, the colored people had preachers of their own race, and held their own special services, occupying the same houses which were owned and used by the white congregations. State laws generally required that some steady white man should he present at these meetings. This requirement was always complied with.

An illustration showing the nature of pastoral work in a congregation made up of white people and their slaves will doubtless be of interest. In a town in Middle Tennessee the pastor of such a church had under his charge one hundred and fifty colored members. He was as much the pastor of the humblest of these as of [433] the wealthiest and most influential white member. Common sense, if nothing better, required that his pastoral labors among these people should conform to the wishes and interests of the owners. Many a time was he taken by the mistress into the negro cabin to minister to some afflicted servant. Many a time, too, under similar direction, did he go to the negro cabin to pray for some penitent sinner, and try to lead him to his Savior. While he was the pastor of these colored people he had a colored assistant, "Brother Jim," the property of one of the elders. It was Jim's custom regularly to bring the notes of his sermon to the white pastor Saturday afternoon for criticism; and when something was pointed out to be corrected he never failed to make the suggested changes. Jim preached at three o'clock Sunday afternoons in the same pulpit which had been occupied by the regular pastor in the morning. It was the pastor's duty and pleasure as a Christian to be present at these three o'clock services, and he testifies that he has heard no preaching from our colored brethren since the war which was as near the pure gospel as Jim's simple and earnest discourses. There were many converts at these meetings. This is a sample of the general order of things with Cumberland Presbyterian pastors throughout the Southern States before the war.

At the camp-meetings there were some special arrangements for colored worshipers. A shed in front of the pulpit was built for the white people, and another in the rear for the colored people. When the call for mourners was made at the close of the sermon, seats next the pulpit both front and rear were reserved. for the penitents. There were many conversions in the rear of the pulpit as well as in the front; but the negroes never seemed to feel entirely free to work in their own way until the white people closed their services and went to their tents. Then began a scene of wild excitement and wonderful interest which no pen can describe. The singing at such a time was specially interesting. Nothing in the meetings of the colored people at the present day makes any approximation to these revival melodies. The camp-meeting songs of the negroes, like the corn songs of that period, were rich, original, and genuine African productions. When a [434] thousand negroes, keeping time with foot and head, with arms and body, poured out all their souls upon the night air in a camp-meeting chorus suited to their voices and their culture, the weird and solemn grandeur and grotesqueness were indescribable.

Our colored ministers sometimes preached to white audiences. There was a colored Cumberland Presbyterian preacher in Missouri who often preached at camp-meetings to the white people. It was everywhere the custom among Cumberland Presbyterians to ordain white and colored preachers in precisely the same way and by the same presbyters, except that the necessities of the case made it necessary to use leniency about literary requirements. The education of the colored preacher in the days of slavery was secured under no little disadvantage. Generally his teacher was his "young master," usually a lad of from twelve to eighteen. His theological instruction was obtained partly at church, partly at the meetings of the presbytery, where he was catechized, and partly in private interviews with his pastor.

The old order of things broke down during the war. The origin of this change has often been misunderstood. It was by their own choice, and without any promptings by their former masters, that the colored members of our church ceased to attend services with the white people. The change was universal, and in all the denominations. A state of things sprang up during the war which not only led to this result, but also closed their ears for a time against all white preachers of Southern antecedents.

After the war, in October, 1868, the colored people of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church held a convention at Henderson, Kentucky, to decide what steps should be taken. The convention was not large, but the prevailing voice was for ecclesiastical separation from the whites. A call for another convention to meet in Huntsville, Alabama, January, 1869, was responded to by only a few. Those who met decided to defer all action until the next May, and endeavor to have a full delegation of colored ministers in a convention to be held at the same time and place at which the next General Assembly was to meet. The Banner of Peace joined heartily in the call for a full convention. Dr. W.D. Chadick, pastor of our church at Murfreesboro, where the Assembly was to [435] meet, published assurances that all the colored delegates would be entertained free of charge. A full delegation was present. After this convention had held several meetings, the Rev. Moses T. Weir, brother of our African missionary, went to one of the members of the General Assembly and requested his cooperation in obtaining the consent of the Assembly to the organization of a separate African Cumberland Presbyterian Church. In a long conversation on this subject Weir said that colored men would never learn self-reliance and independence in the same church judicatures with the white people. It seemed evident that much larger financial assistance for the work among the negroes could be secured by Mr. Weir's plan than by any other.

In a short time the convention sent in to the General Assembly its official action. That action declares that "it would not be for the advancement of the interests of the church among either the white or colored people for the ministers of the two races to meet together in the same judicatures." The convention therefore asked the Assembly to adopt a plan by which, under the superintendence and by assistance of the whites, they might be organized into separate presbyteries and synods. It asked also for financial aid in setting up the new organization.

To all of this the Assembly gave its consent, and appointed the necessary committees for carrying out the plan. Under this plan several colored presbyteries were organized that same year. The committee to cooperate with the colored people in this organization, and in establishing a school for the education of their ministers, was composed of the Rev. J.C. Bowden, D.D., the Rev. Barnett Miller, the Rev. Thomas E. Young, together with ruling elders A.M.C. Simmons and A.J. Fuqua. This committee, besides such aid as it was practicable to give in organizing presbyteries, also appointed the Rev. Moses T. Weir agent to secure funds for the establishment of a college for colored people.

In the organization of the colored presbyteries others besides the committee rendered valuable assistance. The Rev. M.B. DeWitt, D.D., was perhaps the very first to aid in this work.

All seemed to start off with the utmost harmony. No jar had occurred up to 1870. In May of that year, when our General [436] Assembly met at Warrensburg, Missouri, the Rev. Moses T. Weir appeared with a commission from the Greenville Presbytery (colored), asking a seat as a member of the Assembly. Fears were entertained by Southern members that somebody was trying to use Weir for political purposes, and there were in the Assembly indications of serious trouble about this matter. The commission which Mr. Weir presented was read by Dr. Bird, the stated clerk, and action concerning it was deferred until after the committee appointed the year before at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to cooperate with the colored people in their efforts to establish an institution of learning should make its report. The matter came up several times during the first four days of the Assembly's meeting, and there were some exciting discussions. Finally, the Rev. W.S. Campbell, D.D., of Illinois, called attention to the fact that there was no proper information before the General Assembly touching the organization or existence of Greenville Presbytery, and on his motion Mr. Weir's informal commission was almost unanimously laid on the table. A similar case was before the next Assembly, with similar results. Since then all strife about the relations of our church to the colored people has ceased.

The colored Cumberland Presbyterians have continued their work with varying prosperity, but their success has been far beyond what the many discouragements would have led us to expect. They now have a General Assembly, a Board of Missions, a Board of Publication, and other boards. The increase in the number of their ministers has been wonderful. They have five synods, nineteen presbyteries, two hundred ordained ministers, two hundred and twenty-five licensed preachers, two hundred candidates for the ministry, and fifteen thousand members. Although there were about twenty thousand colored Cumberland Presbyterians in 1860, only a very small portion of them were gathered into this independent denomination. The Rev. Robert Johnson, corresponding delegate sent from that church to our General Assembly in 1874, made the following statement:

MODERATOR AND BRETHREN: believing that more good would be accomplished by a separate organization, the body which I have the honor to represent hailed with pleasure the action taken by the General [437] Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in May, 1869. With the assistance and cooperation of presbyteries under your control, a number of colored ministers have been from time to time set apart to the whole work of the ministry to labor among their own people. These ministers have formed themselves into presbyteries and synods, and on the first day of May, 1874, commissioners from the various presbyteries met in the city of Nashville, Tennessee, and formed a General Assembly. That body determined to appoint a corresponding delegate to represent them in this meeting of your reverend body, and that duty devolved upon me. Under the control of the body which I represent, there are now seven presbyteries, viz.: Huntsville, Elk River, Farmington, Hiwassee, New Hopewell, New Middleton, and Springfield. The first four constitute the Synod of Tennessee, and the last three the Synod of Huntsville. In our communion we number now, as nearly as can be ascertained, 46 ordained ministers, 20 licentiates, 30 candidates, and 3,000 communicants. The value of church property is about $5,000. We earnestly desire, moderator and brethren, to have your assistance and cooperation. We are weak, you are strong; we are young as an organization, you are old. We need the benefit of your experience. Above all, we need your prayers. For these things I confidently ask, and may the great Head of the church accept you and us with all true believers into his holy keeping always.

In twelve years the growth in numbers in the ministry and membership of this church has been five hundred percent.

The school for colored Cumberland Presbyterians at Bowling Green, Kentucky, has never received any considerable assistance from the wealthy. Perhaps the whole church has not contributed as much as ten thousand dollars for its establishment and support. It is a struggling enterprise, yet it has done some good work in spite of its disadvantages. At the meeting of our General Assembly at Covington, Ohio, May, 1887, nearly $2,700 was raised for the benefit of this institution, thus freeing it from debt.

We all acknowledge our obligation to send the gospel to Africa, and think it a noble work of Christian heroism to go to that dark land and win souls to Christ; but the Africans here at our doors have still stronger claims on us. In spite of past difficulties and theoretical fears, it stands today as a demonstrated fact wherever tested that labors in the interest of the colored people by Southern white men are not only acceptable, but also fruitful of good results.

[438] The Rev. J.L. Cooper, who was army missionary, furnishes an account of his work among the negroes of Mississippi since the war. In the field where he labored the "prohibition" ticket triumphed through negro votes, and that, too, when the advocates of the liquor traffic with money and whisky sought to corrupt these voters. Mr. Cooper had his hands full of other work, but he made occasional tours among the negroes, and he testifies that these occasional visits yielded better fruits than his labors among the white people. He says that the negroes of Mississippi are everywhere accessible if Southern white preachers approach them in the right spirit. This is the testimony of a man born and reared in Mississippi--a man who was a missionary in the rebel army.

There ought to be an organized system of evangelistic work among the negroes by Cumberland Presbyterians, and Southern white men should lead in this work. There ought to be ministers and lay workers in the South noble enough and with enough of the spirit of Christ to trample under foot all foolish prejudices, and render personal assistance in the meetings and the Sabbath Schools of the colored people. Why should a young man who had a negro nurse for daily companion and instructor through all the tenderest and most impressible years of childhood, now be thrust out and lose caste because he tries to instruct a class in the colored Sabbath School, or leads the worship in a meeting of colored people?

The religious interests of the colored Cumberland Presbyterians will no doubt be best developed in a separate denomination of their own, where the whole responsibility of their ecclesiastical affairs is placed in their own hands. Yet who can doubt that it is our solemn duty to help them establish a school for the instruction of their preachers? And when this school is established, one of our educated white men who is sound in the faith should be secured for its theological department until the time comes when enough of scholarship and enough of soundness in the faith are found among the colored preachers to enable them to teach their own candidates for the ministry.

As a fitting close to this chapter, the appeal of the Rev. J.F. Humphrey to our Assembly in 1879 is inserted:

[439] Fayetteville, Tennessee, May 14, 1879.

To the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tennessee:

The General Assembly (colored) of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, which convened at Bowling Green, Kentucky, May 1, 1879, conferred the honor upon me to address your reverend and honored body, to set forth our warm sympathies and Christian love. We look upon you as our fathers and our refuge in time of need, and feel assured that you will hear the cries of your poor, humble, destitute children. We have been set apart only a few years, and through much prayer and hard struggles we have been able to sustain the doctrine of our fathers, which is as dear as life itself to us. As children, you have our prayers that all the proceedings of your body may be guided by the unerring counsel of the God of our fathers. We pray that the day may not be far distant when our poor young preachers shall be imbued with the spirit and wisdom which distinguishes your noble body. You have our sincere and heartfelt thanks for your liberal donations to our young preacher at Lebanon, Tennessee, at your last sitting, and we humbly solicit and pray that you will still remember us, and provide some means to aid us in the publication of our little paper, which we desire to issue in the interest of our church. I herewith send you a circular letter, which will set forth our desires and intentions. Should it trespass upon your precious time and suspend your business to read this article, please allow your minds to reflect upon our deplorable condition when we were set apart, by our own request, expecting, after we had made earnest endeavors to help ourselves, that you would extend the aiding hand to succor your child that looks to its father for assistance.

We truly regretted that we were deprived of the counsel of your corresponding delegate at Bowling Green, as he did not appear or send any communication whatever. We value your prayers for the fulfillment of our desires, and shall ever expect your earnest petitions to ascend to the throne of grace in our behalf. If nothing else is done but the offering of your prayers in our behalf, the dark cloud will be dispersed, and then we shall be able to rejoice in the God of our fathers.

Please remember the colored Cumberland Presbyterians in your devotional exercises. If you do this, we feel confident that the obstacles will be removed, and we shall be able to advance in our work, ever holding up the Cumberland Presbyterian banner, with the precious name of Jesus inscribed upon it. May God be with you and conduct the business of your body to the approval and approbation of the Supreme Moderator of the universe. Yours fraternally,

J.F. HUMPHREY, Stated Clerk Cumberland Presbyterian Assembly.



MISSIONS--1860 TO 1870.

In 1860 there were in the United States fourteen Cumberland Presbyterian missions in cities and larger towns. So far as can be ascertained, self-sustaining churches have been established at all these points, except in Louisville, Kentucky, San Antonio, Texas, and Burlington, Iowa. The work at Burlington has been finally abandoned. At Louisville and San Antonio promising mission churches are now growing up.

While the war raged, mission work was prosecuted at Mattoon, Macomb, Atlanta, Winona, and Jerseyville, Illinois; Leavenworth Kansas; and Waukon, Oskaloosa and Nevada, Iowa. Most of this work was under the charge of the Board of Missions at Alton, Illinois. The churches at Waukon, Nevada, Mattoon and Atlanta have become self-sustaining.

In the years immediately succeeding the war missions were reported at Austin, Texas, and Bowling Green, Kentucky; also at Paducah, Kentucky; Clarksville, Chattanooga, and Shelbyville, Tennessee; and Helena, Arkansas. The first two advanced rapidly to a self-sustaining strength.

On the Pacific coast no new missions in cities or towns were undertaken during this period. Some active country missions and valuable itinerant work were reported. The missionaries of this period in California were D.R. Bushnell, E.C. Latta, O.D. Dooley, E.J. Gillespie, C.H. Crawford, L. Dooley, W.N. Cunningham, and C. Yager. Some of these labored in local missions, and some traveled only for a short period. There was a missionary board, or [441] committee, in California. But little or no help was sent from the older portions of the Church to any part of the Pacific coast.

In other States, itinerant missionaries were not numerous. The Rev. Benjamin Hall was kept at work in Iowa part of the time as missionary evangelist, and part of the time in charge of the Waukon mission. He gave frequent accounts of precious revivals. The Rev. P.H. Crider was missionary in the same State, devoting himself partly to a local field and laboring also as an evangelist. He, too, reported gracious revivals. The same statements apply to the Rev. A.H. Houghton, who was laboring in Iowa and Minnesota. At the beginning of this period the Rev. J.B. Green was working in Kansas as an itinerant missionary under the direction of the Board of Missions at Lebanon, Tennessee. He had remarkable success. The Rev. A.M. Wilson was employed as a missionary in Kansas during part of this period. The board says of him: "He is a faithful, self-sacrificing brother."

The principal new territories entered by our people between 1860 and 1870 were Nebraska and Colorado. This work began through the immigration of Cumberland Presbyterians into these Territories, but so little was accomplished in these fields that it is best to reserve it to be placed along with the events of the next period.

Although the entire work of the Board of Missions at Lebanon, Tennessee, was suspended by the war; and although the intervening military lines prevented any communication between the board at Alton, Illinois, and our Indian missions, yet these missions stubbornly refused to die. The Rev. R.S. Bell and his wife, with the native preachers to aid them, determined to keep the churches alive. All through the war, without any salary from the board, Bell labored on. The Indians helped to feed him; but it was by a hard struggle, and through much privation and self-denial, that the work was sustained. The fruits of this self-sacrificing toil will endure forever. When the war closed and mails were re-established, it was with feelings of amazement that the church found this missionary hero still at his post. He continued in this work till 1880.

The foreign missionary work of Cumberland Presbyterians during this period was in three fields: the Indian country, Liberia, and Turkey. The work of Edmond Weir in Africa was continued [442] through all these dark war years. From 1861 till he came back to America, in 1868, his letters grew more and more gloomy. Writing to the Rev. J.B. Logan, from Cape Mount, Liberia, September 11, 1861, he says:

This morning I must confess that I am at a great loss to know how to write these lines to you in the United States. ... I think that my good Brother Logan will drop me a few lines and let me near how stands the case with the board and its foreign fields of labor. I know, from what I read, that it can not do much at present toward paying us off. But when will it? I am bare for clothing--indeed I may say that I have but one coat; ... and I don't know what I will have to do, seeing those who have such things for sale, say: "I can not credit you, for I think that your board will not do any thing more."

Now, if any member of the board were to drop me a line, saying, "The board will send you some money in a short time," I could get credit, and not suffer so much. Will you please let me know how stands the case at this time. Please write as soon as you get this letter, so that I can know what to do.

I am your most humble servant, E. WEIR.

While the war progressed, and the Board of Missions at Lebanon was inoperative, the Alton board took charge of this Liberia mission, but could send Weir only a very meager support, and utterly failed to secure any other preachers to join him. When the board at Lebanon resumed operations in 1867, the missions were divided between the boards, and the work in Liberia fell to the Alton board. Weir's letters were gloomy; his wife's still more so. In 1868 he left his family in Africa, and came to America to see what was the matter. He attended the meeting of the Alton board, but was not much encouraged by what he there learned. That board was in debt, and had no money for him. It, however, gave him permission to canvass its field and collect all the help he could. After a brief and very unprofitable canvass, he was requested by the board to take a mission to the freedmen of the Southern States, instead of his African mission. This he declined. The board then asked the advice of the General Assembly, and was instructed to abandon the Liberia mission.

This is a sad record to make, but it will be borne in mind that all the Southern States, where two thirds of our people lived, were [443] in a state of extreme financial prostration. North as well as South the absorbing interest in the war, the excitements and distractions, the sore losses and bereavements, had long interfered with missionary collections and hindered all church operations. Every department of the work was crippled for the lack of money. Time was needed for our people to recover their strength and for those who had been separated during the years of the great struggle to re-adjust themselves to one another and to the work. While the church was in this crippled state, it was found impossible to do much for foreign missions, and so the Liberia mission failed.

As for Mr. Weir, he quit the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and joined the Congregationalists.

The Rev. J.C. Armstrong's mission to Turkey had, in some respects, a sadder history than the Liberia mission. His Southern birth and Southern sympathies involved him in a class of difficulties which need not be discussed. He was sent by the Lebanon board, which became inoperative before Armstrong had been in Turkey twelve months. This board was crippled almost to its death before Armstrong set his foot on Asiatic soil.

In the summer of 1860, supplied with numerous letters of introduction, the missionary and his wife, and their three-months-old babe set sail from New York in the Golden Rule, Captain Mayo. This was a sail ship, bound for India via London. It was overladen, and had a poor crew, though a good captain.

They were becalmed for a week near the banks of Newfoundland. After this, late one night when they were under full sail, near the middle of the Atlantic, they were overtaken by a sudden storm. Every sail was spread when the hurricane struck them.

The ship was thrown on its beam ends, and when the captain ordered the sails to be furled, he found the crew in mutiny. Not a man obeyed the order. It was perhaps due to this mutiny that the watch had not been faithful to report the approaching storm. The captain, however, was equal to the emergency. He managed by the assistance of the officers to capture and lock up the crew, and take in the sails. Presently the ship was found to be leaking rapidly. The pumps were resorted to, but it was ascertained that the mutineers had intentionally spoiled them. After much trouble and [444] alarm, the pumps were repaired and officers and passengers were set to pumping; but in spite of their utmost efforts, the water gained on them. Wild alarm now reigned. The captain said that the vessel would not keep afloat fifteen minutes longer. Death was the accepted issue. True, there might be some faint hope of escaping in the boats, if the officers could manage to launch them. Before this was undertaken, however, the captain remembered that the vessel was still on its side, and that the leak might be in the side, and not in the hull. Instantly he called every body to aid in righting the ship. That was a supreme moment of peril and suspense. Should all the time remaining be spent in righting the vessel, and the leak still continue, it would then be too late to lower the boats. Every energy was taxed to its utmost, and the ship was righted. It was then found that the leak had entirely ceased. The injury was in the side of the ship, above the waterline. After much vigorous pumping they succeeded in emptying the vessel of water, and finally reached London in safety.

In London, the missionaries utilized their many letters of introduction in a social and pleasant manner. Here, too, tidings reached them of "the Syrian massacre." This was a trial to missionaries bound for Damascus. The different missionary-societies of London advised them to abandon the mission to Syria. From London they went to Paris, where they again made pleasant use of their letters of introduction. From France they sailed on a French steamer to Constantinople. They came in sight of this city the morning of the 22nd of September, 1860.

Armstrong says that he had from his boyhood felt a special call to preach to the Mohammedans, and when he reached Constantinople, he felt as if his life's mission lay before his eyes. Engaging boarding with the Rev. Wm. Goodell, D.D., the missionaries set to work immediately to study the Turkish language. After six months they rented a house, moved into it, and then began in a small way to work among their neighbors. In the meantime they had cultivated the acquaintance of all the Protestant missionaries then in the city.

In the latter part of the year 1860, a delegation from Brusa, a populous city seventy miles westward, visited the missionaries at [445] Constantinople. This delegation represented two thousand people who had revolted from the Greek church. They proposed to turn over their houses of worship, membership, and other interests to any Protestant missionary board that would immediately supply them with preaching. Two Protestant preachers, one an editor and a native Greek, proposed to Armstrong that they three should unite and form a Cumberland Presbyterian presbytery, and take charge of this work in Brusa. Here was a conflict between what seemed a clear call of divine Providence, and a long-cherished impression that he was especially called to work for the Mohammedans. He had made good progress in the Turkish language, but he could already speak modern Greek.

Two things, however, were necessary in order to carry out the Brusa enterprise--authority from the Cumberland Presbyterian Board of Missions, and more money. If the two Greek preachers entered the work with him, they, as well as he, would need a small advance from the board. He wrote, but received no reply. He waited and hoped till the opportunity was gone forever.

There were other similar offers, however, from the Greeks--one from the islands of the Greek Archipelago, but they were all declined. Armstrong studied several languages simultaneously with the Turkish. Mrs. Armstrong studied these languages with her husband, and one (Armenian) which he did not. She and her husband still use the Turkish language in their family, being great admirers of that conglomerate tongue.

When the war grew to a white heat in America, the American missionaries in Constantinople became intensely wrought up concerning the war issues at home. Armstrong's position became perilous. His supplies from America were all cut off. His political antecedents prevented him from obtaining any loans from the other American missionaries. He saw before him no prospect but starvation. He says: "I called my faithful servant and his wife, and told them we could no longer afford to keep a servant; they would have to go." He then had prayers with them. When they rose after prayer, the man said: "God do so to me and more also if we leave thee." He then ran down stairs and brought up his earnings, amounting to a hundred dollars, and placed the money in Arm [446] strong's hands. This kept them from starvation a little while longer. Then their rent was due, and their provisions exhausted. The landlord gave them notice to vacate the house in twenty-four hours. In that burning heat they could not live twenty-four hours outside of shelter. Human help there was none. The night was spent in looking to a higher source of help. The next morning there was a vigorous knocking at the door. They supposed their landlord had come to put them out, but, when they opened the door with fear and trembling, it was not the red turban, and big breeches, and bloated face of their landlord which met them, but a young Frenchman in European costume. He seemed excited, and handing Armstrong some money, said hurriedly that the Lord had impressed it on his heart in the night that Armstrong was in want, and had sent him with relief. He told Armstrong that he had just seen the dreaded landlord, and settled the rents for the past, and for six months in advance. He refused to give his name, but said, with tears: "I belong to your King; never doubt that a gracious Lord is watching over you. Goodbye." From that day to this Armstrong has neither seen this timely messenger nor received any tidings from him. He found his rent all paid, as the Frenchman had told him.

That night the chaplain of the British embassy, the Rev. Mr. Gribble, came and loaned Armstrong some money. Next day Mr. Gribble and his wife called, bringing various articles which the missionaries greatly needed. By invitation, formally made, Armstrong began making translations for the seven pastors of the Reformed Armenian Church, who about that time had declared themselves independent of the American Board, and set up an organization of their own. The manuscripts of their leader were a mixed mass of English, Turkish, and French, as confused in matter as in language. They desired Armstrong to arrange this mass in one language, and from it to formulate their system of theology for them. To this work he devoted three months, and when he had digested, arranged, and translated the matter placed in his hands, he found it to be a system of doctrine almost identical with that taught by Cumberland Presbyterians. This creed, he says, is no doubt still held and preached by these oriental pastors.

[447] Another work now opened up for our missionary. It was the translation of the Scriptures into the Rumanian language. He accepted this work, and expected to travel to the capital city of Rumania. Here a new difficulty met him. American citizens who were suspected of rebel sympathies had trouble about securing passports. Armstrong took Turkish protection; but he did not, after all, embark in this new work, or need his Turkish passport. An attack of typhoid fever kept him in Constantinople. The illness was long and severe, but all his wants were supplied. The missionaries sat up with him, nursed him, and when he was able to travel loaned him money to the amount of six hundred dollars to come home on. The voyage back to America restored his health and closed his missionary career.

His wife was a Canadian, and he sailed from Asia to Canada, where he remained teaching school until after the close of the war. He greatly longed to return to Asia, but the way has never been opened. The Board of Missions at Lebanon, Tennessee, when it resumed operations, paid off the debts which he had been forced to contract. "God sometimes sends his servants a long way to do what seems to us a very little thing." No matter, if he sends us, it will all be right.

1. Private letter of Dr. W.E. Ward to Dr. Beard, written at the time.

2. My own memoranda, and papers furnished by N. Waller, of Selma, Alabama.

3. The laws where he lived permitted that to be done.

4. Life and Times of Ewing, page 273.

5. Ibid.

6. Items furnished by Hon. F.E. McLean.

7. Donnell's manuscript to be filed in Cumberland University.

8. Assembly's Minutes, 1848, pp. 12, 13.

9. Ibid. 1851, p. 16.

10. Ibid. pp. 56, 57.

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