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other Church, now on earth. An humble attempt to evince the truth of this position, will occupy the following pages.

For the fulfilment of the purpose in view, I shall endeavour, very briefly, to consider the History of Presbyterianism ; its doctrine, its order, or form of government; its worship; and its comparative advantages. In each of these respects, unless I am deceived, it will be easy to show that it approaches nearer than any other Christian denomination, to the Apostolical mode..

To prepare the way more fully for the ensuing discussion, it may be proper to state, that there are four distinct forms of Church order, each of which claims a scriptural warrant; the Papal, or spiritual monarchy—the Episcopal, or spiritual prelacy—Independency, or spiritual democracy-and Presbyterianism, or spiritual republicanism. The first maintaining the necessity of one supreme, universal, infallible Head of the whole Christian body throughout the world, as the authorised vicar of Christ. The second, contending for an order of clerical prelates, above the rank of ordinary ministers of the Gospel, who are alone, in their view, empowered to ordain, and without whose presiding agency, there can be no regular Church. The third, holding that all ecclesiastical power resides in the mass of the Church members, and that all acts of ecclesiastical authority are to be performed immediately by them. While in the fourth and last place, Presbyterians believe, that Christ has made all ministers who are authorised to dispense the word and sacraments, perfectly equal in official rank and power: that in every Church the immediate exercise of ecclesiastical power is deposited, not with the whole mass of the people, but with a body of their representatives, styled Elders; and that the whole visible Church Catholic, so far as their denomination is concerned, is not only one in name, but so united by a series of assemblies of these representatives, acting in the name, and by the authority of the whole, as to bind the whole body together as one Church, walking by the same principles of faith and order, and voluntarily, yet authoritatively governed by the same system of rule and regulation.

Presbyterianism, then, is a term which primarily refers to the form of Church government. That is a Presbyterian Church, in which the Presbytery is the radical and leading judicatory; in which Teaching and Ruling Presbyters or Elders, have committed to them the watch and care of the whole

flock ; ir: which all ministers of the word and sacraments are equal ; in which Ruling Elders, as the representatives of the people, form a part of all ecclesiastical assemblies, and par. take, in all authoritative acts, equally with the Teaching Elders; and in which, by a series of judicatories, rising one above another, each individua, church is under the watch and care of its appropriate judicatory, and the whole body, by a system of review and control, is bound together as one homogeneous community. Wherever this system is found in operation in the Church of God, there is Presbyterianism Though there may be much diversity in the names of the several judicatories; and though, in the minuter details of arrangement, some variety may exist, still it is essentially the same Thus the Reformed Churches in France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, and Geneva, are all Presbyterian, notwithstanding some minor varieties in the names and regulations of their judicatories. Wherever ministerial parity; the government of the church by Elders, instead of the mass of the communicants; and the authoritative union of churches under courts of review and control, are found, there we have that ecclesiastical system which it is the object of the following pages to explain and recommend.

But although the term Presbyterian has a primary reference to the form of Church government; yet Presbyterian Churches were originally agreed, and have been commonly, in all age: agreed, in a variety of other matters, which we believe are als warranted by the Holy Scriptures. It is to the whole system, then, of doctrine, government, and mode of worship, which now distinguishes the Presbyterian Church in the United States, that the attention of the readers of these pages is requested; and which, it shall be my aim to show, is set forth in the Word of God, “the only infallible rule of faith and practice."



The essential principles of Presbyterian Church order were of very early origin. Those principles are the authoritative binding of the whole Church together as one body; and conducting this government, not by the entire ecclesiastical popu


lation, but by representatives, elected by, and acting on behal} of the whole. That this mode of administering the affairs of the visible Church was adopted long before the coming of Christ, is certain, and can be doubted by none who intelligently and impartially read the Old Testament Scriptures. Ever. before the institution of the ceremonial economy, while the covenanted people of God were yet in bondage in Egypt, we find that they had their Elders, that is, their men of gravity, experience and wisdom, who were obeyed as heads of tribes, and rulers among the people, Exodus iii. 16. The powers committed to them, and exercised by them, are not particularly specified; but we may take for granted, with confidence, that their office was to inspect and govern the people, and to adjust all disputes both of a civil and ecclesiastical nature. Before the publication of the law from Mount Sinai, and anterior to the establishment of the ceremonial economy, Moses chose wise and able men out of the tribes of Israel, made them rulers over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens. Exodus xviii. These rulers are elsewhere, in almost every part of the Old Testament, styled Elders. To them, as we are expressly informed, all the ordinary cases of government and discipline were committed. The same mode of dispensing justice and order among the people, seems to have been employed after the institution of the Aaronic priesthood ; during the time of the Judges, and of the Kings; during the Babylonish captivity; and after the return of the captives from Babylon. At whatever time the Synagogue system was adopted, it is evident that the plan of conducting government by means of a body of Elders, was universal, through all the land of Judea, up to the time of the Saviour's advent. The synagogues were the parish churches of the Jews. There the ordinary worship and instruction of the Sabbath were conducted ; and the excommunication of an individual from the body of the professing people of God, was expressed by “putting him out of the synagogue.". In these synagogues the essential principles of Presbyterianism were universally established. The similarity, as to every important point, was exact. In short, during the whole tract of time embraced in the history of the Mosaic economy, we have complete evidence that the ecclesiastical government, as well as the civil, was conducted, under God, the Supreme Ruler, by boards of Elders, acting as the authorized representatives of the people. To this mode of government, as is notorious, every city, and every synagogue was accustomed. In no instance, in either Church or State, is a case recollected in which the population was called together to settle a dispute,

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or to dispense justice between persons at variance. The representative system was universally in use. The work of administering justice was always done by a body of rulers or officers, commonly styled, amidst all the changes of dispensation, “Elders of the people.”

Nor was this all. As each particular synagogue was governed by a bench of Elders, of which the Bishop or “ Angel of the Church,” was the presiding officer; so also, as the whole Jewish body was one ;-one Catholic Church,—there were always appeals admitted, in cases of alleged incorrectness of

judgment, to the “great synagogue” at Jerusalem, where an opportunity was given for redressing what was done amiss. Nothing like the independency of particular synagogues was admitted or thought of. A system which bound the whole community together as one visible professing body, was uniformly in operation.

The first converts to Christianity being all native Jews, who had been always accustomed to the exercise of government by benches of “ Elders,” in the manner just specified; and this representative plan being so equitable, so wise, and so convenient in itself; no wonder that the same plan was adopted by the apostles in organizing the primitive Church. ACcordingly, as in the account which the inspired writers give of the Jewish constitution, we read continually of the “ Rulers of the synagogue,” and of the “ Elders of the people," as a body distinguished from the priests; so, when they proceed to give us an account of the organization and proceedings of the New Testament Church, we find the same language used in cases almost innumerable. We read of “ Elders being ordained in every church;” of an important question being referred to a synod, made up of “ Apostles and Elders ;" of "Elders who ruled well, but did not labour in the word and doctrine;" of the “ Elders of the Church being called together" to consider ecclesiastical questions ; of the “ Elders of the Church being called for to visit and pray over the sick,” &c.

The question, whether the exact mode of conducting the government and discipline of the Church, which we find de lineated in the New Testament, is obligatory on Christians now, is one concerning which there is no small diversity of opinion. That an entire conformity to that model, in every minute particular, is essential to the existence of the Church, will be maintained by few; and certainly by no Presbyterians. None can doubt, however, that it is most expedient and safe to keep as near as may be to that plan of Church order, which inspired men approved and left in use, when they ceased from

their labours. As to what that plan was, it would really seem almost impossible that intelligent and impartial readers of the New Testament should entertain different opinions. The moment we open the inspired history of the apostolic age, we find a style of speaking concerning the officers of the Church, and a statement of facts, which evince, beyond all controversy, that the model of the synagogue was that which was then adopted, and which was left in universal use when inspired men surrendered the Church to their successors. We find preaching the Gospel, “ feeding the sheep and the lambs” of Christ, and administering the Christian sacraments, the highest offices entrusted to the Ministers of Christ. We find a plurality of “ Elders,” by divine direction, ordained in every church. In no instance, in the whole New Testament, do we find an organized congregation under the watch and care of a single officer. Further, we find “ Bishop” and “Elder," titles given, interchangeably, to the same persons; plainly showing that the term “ Bishop,” in the apostolic age, was the title which designated the pastor or “overseer,” of a single flock or church. We find in the New Testament history, no trace of prelacy. All priority or pre-eminence among the ministers of Christ is expressly rebuked and forbidden. There is evidently but one commission given to the authorized ministers of the word and sacraments. When the Saviour left the world he commissioned no higher officer in his Church, speaks of no higher than he who was empowered to go forth and “ teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” The ordaining power is manifestly represented as possessed and exercised by ordinary pastors, and as performed by the “ laying on of the hands of the Presbytery.' There is not a solitary instance to be found in all the New Testament, of an ordination being performed by a single individual, whether an ordinary, or extraordinary minister. In all the cases which we find recorded, or hinted at, a plurality of ordainers officiated. When Paul and Barnabas were designated to a special mission, it was by a plurality of “Prophets and Teachers of the Church in Antioch,” Acts xiii. When they went forth to preach and organise churches, we are informed that they together, “ ordained Elders in every church.” Timothy was ordained by the “ laying on of the hands of the Presbytery." 1 Tim. iv. 14. And even when the Deacons were set apart to their office, it is plain, from the narrative, Acts vi. 146 that a plurality laid hands upon them with prayer and fasting. It is plain too, that the whole visible Church, in the apostolic

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