Is the Old School Presbyterian Church Apostate for Supporting the Union during the Civil War?

Is the Old School Presbyterian Church Apostate for Supporting the Union during the Civil War?

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Smith, Joseph T. Address of the Acts and Deliverances of the General Assembly of the Old School Presbyterian Church, during the past Five Years, on the State of the Country; Delivered by Request, in the Central Presbyterian Church, Baltimore, on Thursday Evening, June 21, 1866. Baltimore: Wm. K. Boyle, Printer, 1866. First Edition. [9130]

Printed wrapper, some chipping & soil, 9 x 5 3/4 inches, 36 pp. Good. Pamphlet.

An address in which the actions of the General Assembly are recited, and considered, in light of its support of the Federal Troops and the Union during the American Civil War.

"The Assembly declares that the Federal Government is that ordinance of God which we are bound to reverence and obey; and that rebellion against it is a sin..."

The author cites the view that such statements as their Spring Resolutions of 1861 overstepped their bounds and made the members of Presbytery meddlers in Civil Affairs. He treats also with the 1845 controversies over slavery within the Presbyterian Church. He shows from a glance at history that the Presbyterians have made resolutions in the past in support of King and country during the French & Indian War, and for Independence during the American Revolution. He finds that even if errors had been made in such statements in the past and during the Civil War, the errors in no way dissolve a church or maker her apostate.

"These Acts are in entire harmony with the Acts and Deliverances of our Church from its very beginning in this country. And if Apostate now, and because of these, then has the Presbyterian Church in this land always been Apostate."

He shows that other denominations in the United States had made similar resolutions calling for loyalty to the Union, and states those of the Congregationalists, the Lutherans, the German Reformed, the Dutch Reformed, the General Convention of Baptists, the Methodist Protestant, the Methodist Episcopal, and the Protestant Episcopal churches. He even gives examples from the prominent denominations of the Southern States that were in effect before the outbreak of war.

His conclusion is that the Acts of the Assembly during the past five years are in harmony with the previous acts of their highest Church Courts from the beginning - and are in harmony with the acts of every other denomination, north and south, before the outbreak of war. As such, they cannot make the Presbyterian General Assembly apostate, or, she has always been apostate.

Joseph Tate Smith (1818-1907), b. Mercer, PA; d. Harrisburg, PA.. He was for thirty-one years the pastor of Central Presbyterian Church of Baltimore. He was a director of Princeton Seminary (1869-1901) and President of the Board (1899-1901), During his career he served in many capacities in the different Presbyteries, both local and General, in which he was a member.