The Reformed Presbytery, which had been dissolved by the defection of the ministry, during the Revolutionary war, was reorganized toward the close of the eighteenth century. The troubles in Ireland, when the inhabitants united for the purpose of gaining independence of the British crown, were the occasion of bringing strength to the church in America. Reformed Presbyterians, feeling sensibly with others the arm of British tyranny, joined interests hastily with Papists and others, in one sworn association, for the purpose of overturning the existing government by force of arms. The enterprise, as might have been expected, was unsuccessful; Isa. viii, 11, 12; Obadiah 7; 2 Cor. vi, 17. Many fled to the asylum which God had provided, shortly before, in America. Among the refugees were some of the Covenanters, by which the church was strengthened in her ministry and membership.
Early in the nineteenth century, measures were taken by the Reformed Presbytery, in the United States, for re-exhibiting the principles of a covenanted reformation, in a judicial way. Accordingly, in the year 1806, the Presbytery published, as adopted, a work entitled “Reformation Principles Exhibited”—a book which has ever since been popularly called the American Testimony. The familiar designation, Testimony, the general complexion of the book, the orthodox aspect of terms, and even most of the leading sentiments of the work, gave it currency, and rendered it generally acceptable to pious and intelligent Covenanters. And however it seemed to the unsuspecting to sustain, it eventually and effectually supplanted the Scottish Testimony. The men who had the principal hand in giving shape and direction to the principles and practice of Covenanters in the United States, at that time, were located in some of the most populous and commercial cities on the Atlantic coast, where temptations to conform to this world were many and pressing. A disposition to temporize was manifested in these localities, soon after their principles had been judicially exhibited. The last war between the United States and England, subjected Covenanters to new trials in America. As aliens, they were deemed unsafe residents at the seaboard, and were ordered, by the government, to retire a certain distance to the interior (much like the course pursued by Claudius Caesar toward the Jews, Acts xviii, 2). To meet the exigency, a deputation of the church was appointed to repair to Washington, in 1812, and offer a pledge that they would defend the integrity of the country against all enemies. This measure was, however, never carried out.