UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FROM A. D. 1821 TO A. D. 1835 INCLUSIVE.
PRESBYTERIAN BOARD OF PUBLICATION.
No. 265 CHESTNUT STREET.
The Minutes of the General Assembly from A. D. 1821 to A. D. 1835, inclusive, have for many years been entirely inaccessible to the great body of ministers and people who desired to possess a consecutive history of the proceedings of the Supreme Judicatory of the Church. As no second edition had ever been published, and the first was wholly exhausted, it was impossible that deficiencies could be supplied, and hence but few complete sets of the Minutes were to be found among the members of the Church. To supply the frequent and earnest calls for the Minutes of the period above designated, the Board of Publication determined on the preparation of this volume, which, excluding the voluminous Statistical Tables, and many of the documents usually occupying the Appendix for each year, embraces in full the minutes of proceedings, which are chiefly desired for purposes of reference. Instead of the full statistical tables, which it should be understood were only published for a part of the period embraced in this volume, a general summary has been subjoined to the minutes of each year, which was partly made up from the imperfect files of the Assembly. After the volume had gone through the press, the summary for the year 1821, which had escaped previous searches, was found, and is inserted on the next page, it being concluded that it would be better to have it out of its order, than to have it wholly omitted.
WM. M. ENGLES,
Editor of the Presbyterian Board of Publication.
Editor’s Preface, April 28, 2000
This document is scanned from an original copy of the Minutes of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. We have included the Title page, and the Advertisement page, which are descriptive of the original source. The heading includes the year in brackets [1823.] and the page of the original selection featured below.
The text of this and other superb works are available on-line from:
The Willison Politics and Philosophy Resource Center
Reprint and digital file April 28, 2000.
Featured subject in this document : The establishment of a Missions school at Princeton Theological Seminary. Under the guiding hands of Drs. Archibald Alexander, Samuel Miller, and Charles Hodge, as well as the other committee members Jos. Sanford and Thomas Skinner, the General Assembly embarked on a work of truly global impact. As the missionaries went "to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth" they in fact became the tools used by God to fulfill His promises to this very end. While many today wonder about the role of the U.S. in the world, the people who set this in motion were not confused at all. They understood that Providence set up the U.S.A. first and foremost, for His global spiritual purposes, that the economic and political system under our Constitution would enable financing for its ends to be raised, and the legal right to freely study to this end without civil interference guaranteed under the Constitution which, in itself was framed by people who studied at Princeton University (a Presbyterian school) before the Revolution, or of similar scholastic background.
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The Assembly resumed the consideration of the report in relation to a missionary institution, in connection with the Theological Seminary at Princeton:
and after considerable discussion, the report of the committee was adopted, and is as follows, viz.
The committee to whom was referred the report of a committee of the last General Assembly, on the subject of a missionary institution, in connection with the Theological Seminary at Princeton, beg leave to recommend to the General Assembly the adoption of the report of the said committee, with the exception of the third resolution; and also the adoption of the following resolutions, viz.
1. That the General Assembly will proceed to appoint a professor in conformity with the recommendation contained in the said report, as soon as a sufficient annual income can be secured to support the said professor: and,
2. That the whole subject be referred back to the original committee.
The report of the committee appointed on this subject by the last Assembly, and adopted by adopting the above report of the committee to whom it was referred, is as follows, viz.
The Committee appointed by the last General Assembly to consider the expediency of establishing "a Missionary Institution, for the instruction and training of Missionaries, under the care of the General Assembly, and in connection with the Theological Seminary at Princeton," beg leave to report.
That, after repeated meetings, and mature deliberation on the subject committed to them, they are of the opinion, that such an Institution as this appointment seems to contemplate, is much needed, and, if wisely established and maintained, may be expected, under the divine blessing, to contribute much to the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom.
The missionary cause is assuming an importance, and its operations an extent, which must more and more interest the religious public. Every thing, therefore, that is adapted to impart a new impulse to the missionary spirit; to give it a wise and happy direction; or to bring a larger number of individuals, and especially of candidates for the holy ministry under its immediate influence, cannot fail of proving both reasonable and useful. The committee are, therefore, persuaded that the General Assembly could scarcely adopt a measure better adapted to aid the missionary cause; to draw down the richest and most appropriate blessings on the students of the Theological Seminary; to meet and gratify public opinion; and to furnish a centre of information, of instruc
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tion, and of impulse in reference to this great subject, from which invaluable results might be expected.
The spirit of the religion of Jesus Christ is essentially a spirit of Missions; and, undoubtedly, one of the first and highest duties of the Christian church, is to nurture and extend this spirit, and to make all her establishments tributary to its advancement. The importance, therefore, of connecting an institution of the kind proposed, with a Seminary in which a large number of candidates for the holy ministry are assembled, is obvious. Its native tendency, if properly conducted, will be to kindle among the rising ministry, a new and more fervent zeal on behalf of missions; to call forth, animate and prepare larger numbers of missionaries, both for the foreign and domestic field; and, eventually, to diffuse, throughout all our churches more of that deep and practical sense of obligation in reference to this subject, of the want of which we have so much reason to complain, and the increase of which is so earnestly to be desired. [ Bold face added by Willison Center ed. With these words, began the work that made Princeton Seminary the leading missionary school in the world for over 100 years for those who were to work in foreign missions. ]
In another view, also, the committee believe that such an institution as that which is now contemplated, would be productive of incalculable benefit. The great importance of maintaining a spirit of deep and elevated piety in our Theological Seminaries, has been always acknowledged by the friends of vital religion, and is beginning, it is hoped, to attract more of the attention of those who are entrusted with their management. Unless such a spirit can be, in some good degree, maintained among assembled candidates for the holy ministry, Theological Seminaries will, assuredly, not prove a real blessing to the church, but rather the reverse. Now the committee are fully convinced that it would not be easy to suggest a. plan better adapted to subserve this great object, than to connect with a Theological Institution, a department of instruction, the primary purpose of which should be, to cherish fervent love for immortal souls; large views and plans of evangelical usefulness; and every species of know-ledge, and of practical accomplishment adapted to prepare the eons of the church for spreading the gospel throughout the world, Even those who never actually engage in missionary work, will be likely to be essentially benefited by such an appendage to the usual course of instruction ;—to have their personal zeal for the salvation of men increased; their preparation for pastoral fidelity promoted; their knowledge of the wants and miseries of perishing souls extended; and their ultimate capacity for actively favoring the missionary cause, wherever their lot may be cast, greatly enlarged. In this, and in various other ways, it is manifest, that in Theological Seminaries, as well as in the church at large, every effectual step that is taken to extend the missionary cause, tends no less surely, to promote piety and pastoral fidelity at home; and to render every new minister that is added to the church, a new centre of influence and of action for the spread of the gospel.
It would, moreover, be desirable to have some place provided where men destined to foreign missions might profitably spend a year or a few months in such studies and exercises as would tend to prepare and qualify them for their arduous and interesting work. At present much time frequently elapses before the missionary can be conveniently sent to his field of labour; which time would be much more advantageously spent in retirement, study, and devotion, than’ i~ travelling as an agent.
It has also occurred to your committee, that if the proposed institution should he established, and adequately fostered by the favor of the church, it might hereafter be expedient to have provision made for the comfortable support of aged and invalid missionaries on their return to their native country. It is due to men who have exhausted their health, their strength, and their years in the service of the church to be furnished with a peaceful asylum for their latter days.
The committee are further persuaded, that public sentiment in the Presbyte
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nan Church is ripe for such an institution as that which is now under consideration, and prepared promptly and fully to sustain it. And as other Theological Seminaries are increasing the number of their officers and departments of instruction, it is respectfully submitted whether immediate measures ought not to be taken for a corresponding enlargement of the institution at Princeton, if its friends arc desirous of seeing it keep pace with sister institutions in growth and usefulness.
Indeed, so deeply convinced are the committee of the salutary tendency of such an appendage to an institution destined for training up ministers, that they indulge the hope of seeing, before the lapse of many years, such an addition to every Theological Seminary in the land, which has a sufficient number of pupils to demand and warrant the enterprise. They firmly believe that the pecuniary resources of such institutions cannot be bestowed upon an object more likely to be productive of the richest blessings to themselves, and to the whole church.
The committee are of the opinion, however, that a large and expensive establishment ought not, in the outset, to be attempted. A small and humble beginning will, perhaps, be most likely to lead to the best results, by gradual enlargement, as experience may dictate. Some of the most extensive and important institutions now in existence took their rise from small beginnings. Nothing more, therefore, ought, in the opinion of the committee, to be contemplated at present than the commencement of a plan, which may be enlarged and strengthened, as the Assembly may hereafter think proper, and be able to command resources. And as the constitution of the Seminary at Princeton admits, without alteration, of an indefinite addition to the number of its Professors, the committee, therefore, unanimously recommend to the General Assembly the adoption of the following resolutions, viz
Resolved, 1. That there be appointed an additional Professor in the Theological Seminary at Princeton, to bear the name and title of the "Professor of Pastoral Theology and Missionary Instruction."
Resolved, 2. That the said Professor have committed to him the instruction in every thing which relates to the Pastoral office, and that he be especially charged with collecting and imparting instruction on the subject of Missions; and with using all proper means, by public lectures, and private interviews, to promote among all the students an enlarged spirit of pastoral fidelity, of Missionary zeal, and of liberal preparation and active effort for the advancement of the Redeemer’s kingdom.
THOMAS H. SKINNER.
The committee on the religions education of the rising generation made a second report. This, together with the first report of the same committee, which was laid on the table, were recommitted to Mr. Goldsmith, Mr. P. W. Lathrop, and Mr. Armstrong.
The committee of overtures reported overture No. 11, which was read and ordered to be put upon the docket.
Mr. H. G. Johnson, Mr. Wisner, Mr. Phillips, Mr. Brees, and Mr. Proctor, obtained leave of absence.
Adjourned till to-morrow morning at 9 o’clock. Concluded with prayer. Friday, May 28.