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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 289 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PRESBYTERIANISM, a highly organized form of church government in which presbyters or elders occupy a prominent place. As one of the three principal systems of ecclesiastical polity known to the Christian Church, Presbyterianism occupies an intermediate position between episcopacy and congregationalism. A brief comparison with these will indicate its salient features. In episcopacy the supreme authority is a diocesan bishop; in congregationalism it is the members of the congregation assembled in church meeting; in Presbyterianism it is a church council composed of representative presbyters. In episcopacy the control of church affairs is almost entirely withdrawn from the people; in congregationalism it is almost entirely exercised by the people; in Presbyterianism it rests with a council composed of duly appointed office-bearers chosen by the people. The ecclesiastical unit in episcopacy is a diocese, comprising many churches and ruled by a prelate; in congregationalism it is a single church, self-governed and entirely independent of all others; in Presbyterianism it is a presbytery or council composed of ministers and elders representing all the churches within a specified district. It may be said broadly, therefore, that in episcopacy the government is monarchical; in congregationalism, democratic; and in Presbyterianism, aristocratic or representative. I.—THE SYSTEM DESCRIBED As compared with the Church of England (Episcopal) in which there are three orders of clergy—bishops, priests and deacons, One order. the Presbyterian Church recognizes but one spiritual order, viz. presbyters. These are ecclesiastically of equal rank, though differentiated, according to their duties, as ministers who preach and administer the sacraments, and as elders who are associated with the ministers in the oversight of the people. There are deacons in Presbyterianism inferior in rank to presbyters, their duties being regarded as non-spiritual. The membership of a Presbyterian Church consists of all who are enrolled as communicants, together with their children. Member- Others who worship regularly without becoming ship. communicants are called adherents. Only com- municants exercise the rights of membership. They elect the minister and other office-bearers. But, in contrast with Congregationalism, when they elect and " call " a minister their action has to be sustained by the presbytery, which judges of his fitness for that particular sphere, of the measure of the congregation's unanimity, and of the adequacy of financial support. When satisfied, the presbytery proceeds with the ordination and induction. The ordination and induction of ministers is always the act of a presbytery. The ordination and induction of elders in some branches of the Church is the act of the kirk-session; in others it is the act of the presbytery. The kirk-session is the first of a series of councils or church courts which are an essential feature of Presbyterianism. It Kirk- consists of the ministers and ruling elders. The minister Kirson. is ex officio president or moderator. Without his presence or the presence of his duly-appointed deputy the meeting would not be in order nor its proceedings valid. The moderator has not a deliberative, but only a casting vote. (This is true of the moderator in all the church courts.) Neither the session nor the congregation has jurisdiction over the minister. He holds his office ad vitam aut culpam; he cannot demit it or be deprived of it without consent of the presbytery. In this way his independence among the people to whom he ministers is to a large extent secured. The kirk-session has oversight of the congregation in regard to such matters as the hours of public worship, the arrangements for administration of the sacraments, the admission of new members and the exercise of church discipline. New members are either catechumens or members transferred from other churches, The former are received after special instruction and profession of faith; the latter on presenting a certificate of church membership from the church which they have left. Though the admission of new members is, strictly speaking, the act of the session, this duty usually devolves upon the minister, who reports his procedure tothe session for approval and confirmation. Matters about which there is any doubt or difficulty, or division of opinion in the session, may be carried for settlement to the next higher court, the presbytery. The presbytery consists of all the ministers and a selection of the ruling elders from the congregations within a prescribed area. The presbytery chooses its moderator periodically from The among its ministerial members. His duty is to see Prespytery. that business is transacted according to Presbyterian principle and procedure. The moderator has no special power or supremacy over his brethren, but is honoured and obeyed as primus inter pares. The work of the presbytery is episcopal. It has oversight of all the congregations within its bounds; hears references from kirk-sessions or appeals from individual members; sanctions the formation of new congregations; superintends the education of students for the ministry; stimulates and guides pastoral and evangelistic work; and exercises discipline over all within its bounds, including the ministers. Three members, two of whom must be ministers, form a quorum; a small number compared with the important business they may have to transact, but the right of appeal to a higher court is perhaps sufficient safe-guard against abuse. Presbytery meetings are either ordinary or occasional. The former are held at prearranged intervals. Occasional meetings are either in hunc effectum or pro re nata. The presbytery fixes the former for specific business; the latter is summoned by the moderator, either on his own initiative or on the requisition of two or more members of presbytery, for the transaction of business which has suddenly emerged. The first question considered at a pro re nata meeting is the action of the moderator in calling the meeting. If this is approved the meeting proceeds; if not, the meeting is dissolved. Appeals and complaints may be taken from the presbytery to the synod. The synod is a provincial council which consists of the ministers and representative elders from all the congregations within a specified number of presbyteries,- in the same way as The Synod the presbytery is representative of a specified number of congregations. Though higher in rank and larger than most presbyteries it is practically of less importance, not being, like the presbytery, a court of first instance, nor yet, like the general assembly, a court of final appeal. The synod at its first meeting chooses a minister as its moderator whose duties, though somewhat more restricted, are similar to those of presbyterial moderators. The synod hears appeals and references from presbyteries; and by its discussions and decisions business of various kinds, if not settled, is ripened for consideration and final settlement by the general assembly, the supreme court of the Church. The general assembly is representative of the whole Church, either, as in the Irish General Assembly, by a minister and elder sent direct to it from every congregation, or, as in the TheQenerai Scottish General Assemblies, by a proportion of dele- Assembly. gates, ministers and elders from every presbytery. The general assembly annually at its first meeting chooses one of its ministerial members as moderator. He takes precedence, primus inter pares, of all the members, and is recognized as the official head of the Church during his term of office. His position is one of great honour and influence, but he remains a simple presbyter, without any special rule or jurisdiction. The general assembly reviews all the work of the Church; settles controversies; makes administrative laws; directs and stimulates missionary and other spiritual work; appoints professors of theology; admits to the ministry applicants from other churches; hears and decides complaints, references and appeals which have come up through the inferior courts; and takes cognizance of all matters connected with the Church's interests or with the general welfare of the people. As a judicatory it is the final court of appeal; and by it alone can the graver censures of church discipline be reviewed and removed. The general assembly meets once a year at the time and place agreed upon and appointed by its predecessor. By means of this series of conciliar courts the unity of the Church is secured and made manifest; the combined, simultaneous effort of the whole is made possible; and disputes, instead of Conciliar being fought out where they arise, are carried for settle- Courts. ment to a larger and higher judicatory, free from local feeling and prejudice. As access to the church courts is the right of all, and involves but slight expense, the liberty of even the humblest member of the Church is safeguarded, and local oppression or injustice is rendered difficult. The weak point in the system is that episcopal superintendence being exercised in every case by a plurality of individuals there is no one, moderator or senior member, whose special duty it is to take initial action when the unpleasant work of judicial investigation or ecclesiastical discipline becomes necessary. This has led in some quarters to a desire that the moderator should be clothed with greater responsibility and have his period of office prolonged; should be made, in fact, more of a bishop in the Anglican sense of the word. Though the jus divinum of presbytery is not now insisted upon as in some former times, Presbyterians claim that it is the church polity set forth in the New Testament. The case is usually stated somewhat as follows. With the sanction and under the guidance of the Apostles, officers called elders and deacons were appointed in every newly-formed church.' They were elected by New the people, and ordained or set apart for their sacred Testament work by the Apostles.' The elders were appointed to Authority. teach and rule;' the deacons to minister to the poor.' There were elders in the church at Jerusalem,' and in the church at Ephesus;' Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in the cities of Lycaonia and Pisidia;' Paul left Titus in Crete to appoint elders' in every city ;3 the elders amongst the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia received a special exhortation by Peter.9 These elders were rulers, and the only rulers in the New Testament Church. Just as in the synagogue there was a plurality of rulers called elders, so there was in every Christian church a plurality of elders. The elders were different from the deacons, but there is no indication that any one elder was of higher rank than the others. The elder was not an officer inferior and subordinate to the bishop. The elder was a bishop. The two titles are applied to the same persons. See Acts xx. 17, 28; " he sent and called for the elders of the church... . Take heed to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops." See also Titus i. 5, 6: " ordain elders . . . for a bishop must be blameless." This is now admitted by modern expositors.10 The elders were chosen by the people. This is not expressly stated in the New Testament but is regarded as a necessary inference. When an apostle was about to be chosen as successor to Judas, the people were invited to take part in the election ;I' and when deacons were about to be appointed the Apostles asked the people to make the choice." It is inferred that elders were similarly chosen. It is worthy of notice that there is no account at all of the first appointment of elders as there is of deacons. Probably the recognition and appointment of elders was simply the transfer from the synagogue to the Church of a usage which was regarded as essential among Jews; and the Gentile churches naturally followed the example of the Jewish Christians.13 The elders thus chosen by the people and inducted to their office by the Apostles acted as a church court. Only thus could a plurality of rulers of equal rank act in an efficient and orderly way. They would discharge their pastoral duties as individuals, but when a solemn ecclesiastical act, like ordination, was performed, it would be done, as in the case of Timothy, by " the laying on of the hands of the presbytery ";14 and when an authoritative decision had to be reached, as in regard to circumcision, a synod or court was called together for the purpose." The action of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch" seems to accord with Presbyterian rather than Congregational polity. - The latter would have required that the question should have been settled by the church at Antioch instead of being referred to Jerusalem. And the decision of the council at Jerusalem was evidently more than advisory; it was authoritative and meant to be binding on all the churches." The principle of ministerial parity which is fundamental in Presbyterian-ism is founded not merely on apostolic example but on the words of Christ Himself: " Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you." 18 From the foregoing outline it will be seen that Presbyterianism may be said to consist in the government of the Church by representative assemblies composed of the two Alternative Deflattlons.classes of presbyters, ministers and elders, and so arranged as to manifest and realize the visible unity of the whole Church. Or it may be described as denying (i) that the apostolic office is perpetual and should still exist in the Christian Church; (2) that all church power should be vested in the clergy; (3) that each congregation should be independent of all the rest; and as asserting (I) that the people ought to have a substantial part in the government of the Church; (2) that presbyters, i.e. elders or bishops, are the highest permanent officers in the Church and are of equal rank; (3) that an outward and visible Church is one in the sense that a smaller part is controlled by a larger and all the parts by the whole.19 Though Presbyterians are unanimous in adopting the general system of church polity as here outlined, and in claiming New Phil. i. 1. 9 Acts xx. 17. 2 Acts vi. 2-6. Acts xiv. 23. • i Tim. v. 17; Titus i. 9. 3 Titus i. 5. • Acts vi. 1, 2. 9 I Peter v. 1. Acts xi. 29, xv. 2, 4, 6, xvi. 4. 10 See Bishop Lightfoot's exhaustive essay in his volume on the Epistle to the Philippians. '' Acts i. 15-26. " Acts xv. 6-2o. 12 Acts vi. 2-6. " Acts xv. 2. u Acts xiv. 23. " Acts xvi. 4. 14 Timothy iv. 14. 18 Matt. xx.25, 26 ; Luke xxii.2 5, 26. 19 Proceedings of Seventh General Council of the Alliance of Re-formed Churches holding the Presbyterian System (Washington, 1899) Testament authority for it, there are certain differences of view in regard to details which may be noticed. There is no doubt that considerable indefiniteness in regard to the precise status and rank of the ruling elder is coin- Divergent views. monly prevalent. When ministers and elders are associated in the membership of a church court their equality is admitted; no such idea as voting by orders is ever entertained. Yet even in a church court inequality, generally speaking, is visible to the extent that an elder is not usually eligible for the moderator's chair. In some other respects also a certain disparity is apparent between a minister and his elders. Practically the minister is regarded as of higher standing. The duty of teaching and of administering the sacraments and of always presiding in church courts being strictly reserved to him invests his office with a dignity and influence greater than that of the elder. It was inevitable, therefore, that this question as to the exact status of the ruling elder should claim attention in the discussions of the Pan-Presbyterian Alliance. At its meeting in Belfast in 1884 a report was submitted by a " committee on the eldership " which had been previously appointed. According to this committee there are prevalent three distinct theories in regard to the office and function of ruling elders: I. That while the New Testament recognizes but one order of presbyters there are in this order two degrees or classes, known as teaching elders and ruling elders. In teaching, in Theories of dispensing the sacraments, in presiding over public the ThRum, eories o worship, and in the private functions by which he Blden ministers to the comfort, the instruction and the improve- ment of the people committed to his care, a pastor acts within his parish (or congregation) according to his own discretion; and for the discharge of all the duties of the pastoral office he is accountable only to the presbytery from whom he received the charge of the parish (or congregation). But in everything which concerns what is called discipline—the exercise of that jurisdiction over the people with which the office-bearers of the church are conceived to be invested, he is assisted by lay-elders. They are laymen in that they have no right to teach or to dispense the sacraments, and on this account they fill an office in the Presbyterian Church inferior in rank and power to that of the pastors. Their peculiar business is expressed by the term " ruling elders." 20 II. A second theory is contended for by Principal Campbell in his treatise on the eldership, and by others also, that there is no warrant in Scripture for the eldership as it exists in the Presbyterian Church; that the ruling elder is not, and is not designed to be, a counterpart of the New Testament elder; in other words, that he is not a presbyter, but only a layman chosen to represent the laity in the church courts and permitted to assist in the government of the church. The practice of the Presbyterian churches of the present day is in accord with the first-named theory. Where attempts are made to reduce the third theory to practice the result is not satisfactory. Nor is the first-named Practseicnte. day theory less in harmony with Scripture teaching than the third. In the initial stages of the Apostolic Church it was no doubt sufficient to have a plurality of presbyters with absolutely similar duties and powers. At first, indeed, this may have been the only possible course. But apparently it soon became desirable and perhaps necessary to specialize the work of teaching by setting apart for that duty one presbyter who should withdraw from secular occupation and devote his whole time to the work of the ministry. There seems to be evidence of this in the later writings of the New Testament.2' It is now held by all Presbyterian churches that one presbyter in every congregation should have specially committed to him the work 2° Hill's View of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland, pp. 37, 38. 2' 1 Tim. iv. 15, v. 17; Col. iv. 17. of teaching, administering the sacraments, visiting the flock pastorally, and taking oversight, with his fellow elders, of all the interests of the church. To share with the minister such general oversight is not regarded by intelligent and influential laymen as an incongruous or unworthy office; but to identify the duties of the eldership, even in theory, with those of the minister is a sure way of deterring from accepting office many whose counsel and influence in the eldership would be in-valuable.' Another subject upon which there is a difference of opinion in the Presbyterian churches is the question of Church Establishments. The view, originally held by all Presbyterian churches in Great Britain and on the Continent, that union with and support by the civil government are not only lawful but also desirable, is now held only by a minority, and is practically exemplified among English-speaking Presbyterians only in the Church of Scotland (see SCOTLAND, CHURCH OF). The law-fulness of Church Establishments with due qualifications is perhaps generally recognized in theory, but there is a growing tendency to regard connexion with the state as inexpedient, if not actually contrary to sound Presbyterian principle. That this tendency exists cannot be doubted, and there is reason to fear that its influence, by identifying Presbyterianism with dissent in England and Scotland, is unfavourable to the general tone and character of the Presbyterian Church. Those who favour state connexion and those who oppose it agree in claiming spiritual independence as a fundamental principle of Presbyterianism. That principle is spiritual /n- equally opposed to Erastianism and to Papacy, dependence. to the civil power dominating the Church, and to the ecclesiastical power dominating the state. All Presbyterians admit the supremacy of the state in things secular, and they claim supremacy for the Church in things spiritual. Those who favour a Church Establishment hold that Church and state should each be supreme in its own sphere, and that on these terms a union between them is not only lawful but is the highest exemplification of Christian statesmanship. So long as these two spheres are at all points clearly distinct, and so long as there is a desire on the part of each to recognize the supremacy of the other, there is little danger of friction or collision. But when spiritual and secular interests come into unfriendly contact and entanglement; when controversy in regard to them becomes inevitable; from which sphere, the spiritual or the civil, is the final decision to come? Before the Reformation the Church would have had the last word; since that event the right and the duty of the civil power have been generally recognized. The origin of Presbyterianism is a question of historical interest. By some it is said to have begun at the Reformation; Origin by some it is traced back to the days of Israel in Egypt; by most, however, it is regarded as of later Jewish origin, and as having come into existence in its present form simultaneously with the formation of the Christian Church. The last is Bishop Lightfoot's view. He connects the Christian ministry, not with the worship of the Temple, in which were priests and sacrificial ritual, but with that of the synagogue, which was a local institution providing spiritual edification by the reading and exposition of Scripture .3 The first Christians were regarded, even by themselves, as a Jewish sect. They were spoken of as " the way."4 They took with them, into the new communities which they formed, the Jewish polity or rule and oversight by elders. The appointment of these would be regarded as a matter of course, and would not seen to call for any special notice in such a narrative as the Acts of the Apostles. But Presbyterianism was associated in the 2nd century with a kind of episcopacy. This episcopacy was at first rather congregational than diocesan; but the tendency of its growth was undoubtedly towards the latter. Hence for proof that their ' Report of Proceedings, Third General Council of the Alliance of Reformed Churches, &c. (1884), pp. 373 seq. and App. p. 131. z Exodus iii. 16; iv. 29. ' St Luke iv. 16 seq. ' Acts ix. polity is apostolic Presbyterians are accustomed to appeal to the New Testament and to the time when the apostles were still living; and for proof of the apostolicity limo,* of prelacy Episcopalians appeal rather to the early Episcopacy. Church fathers and to a time when the last of the Apostles had just passed away.' It is generally admitted that distinct traces of Presbyterian polity are to be found in unexpected quarters (e.g. Ireland, Iona, the Culdees, &c.) from the early centuries of church history and throughout the medieval ages down to the Reformation of the 16th century. Only in a very modified sense, therefore, can it be correctly said to date from the Reformation. At the Reformation the Bible was for the great mass of both priests and people a new discovery. The study of it shed floods of light upon all church questions. The leaders of the The Reformation searched the New Testament not only for Reformers. doctrinal truth but also to ascertain the polity of the primitive Church. This was specially true of the Reformers in Switzerland, France, Scotland, Holland and in some parts of Germany. Luther gave little attention to New Testament polity, though he believed in and clung passionately to the universal priesthood of all true Christians, and rejected the idea of a sacerdotal caste. He had no dream or vision of the Church's spiritual independence and prerogative. He was content that ecclesiastical supremacy should be with the civil power, and he believed that the work of the Reformation would in that way be best preserved and furthered. In no sense can his " consistorial " system of church government be regarded as Presbyterian. It was different with the Reformers outside Germany. While Luther studied the Scriptures in search of true doctrine and Christian life and was indifferent to forms of church Lpolity, they studied the New Testament not only in Leaders the search of primitive church doctrine but also of primitive Reformed church polity. One is struck by the unanimity with Church. which, working individually and often in lands far apart, they reached the same conclusions. They did not get their ideas of church polity from one another, but drew it directly from the New Testament. For example, John Row, one of the five commissioners appointed by the Scottish Privy Council to draw up what is now known as the First Book of Discipline, distinctly says that " they took not their example from any kirk in the world; no, not from Geneva "; but they drew their plan from the sacred Scriptures.' This was true of them all. They were unanimous in rejecting the episcopacy of the Church of Rome, the sanctity of celibacy, the sacerdotal character of the ministry, the confessional, the propitiatory nature of the mass. They were unanimous in adopting the idea of a church in which all the members were priests under the Lord Jesus, the One High Priest and Ruler; the officers of which were not mediators between men and God, but preachers of One Mediator, Christ Jesus; not lords over God's heritage, but ensamples to the flock and ministers to render service. They were unanimous in regarding ministerial service as mainly pastoral; preaching, administering the sacraments and visiting from house to house; and, further, in perceiving that Christian ministers must be also spiritual rulers, not in virtue of any magical influence transmitted from the Apostles, but in virtue of their election by the Church and of their appointment in the name of the Lord Jesus. When the conclusions thus reached by many independent investigators were at length reduced to a system by Calvin, in his famous Institutio, it became the definite ideal of church government for all the Reformed, in contradistinction to the Lutheran, churches. Yet we do not find that the leaders of the Reformed Church succeeded in establishing at once a fully-developed Presbyterian polity. Powerful influences hindered them from realiz- ing Ear/ their ideal. We notice two. In the first place, the Hindrances. people generally dreaded the recurrence of ecclesiastical tyranny. So dreadful had been the yoke of Rome, which they had shaken off, that they feared to submit to anything similar even under Protestant auspices. When their ministers, moved by an intense desire to keep the Church pure by means of the exercise of scriptural discipline, claimed special spiritual rule over the people, it was not wonderful that the latter should have been reluctant to submit to a new spiritual despotism. So strong was this feeling in some places that it was contended that the discipline of ex-communication, if exercised at all, should be exercised only by the secular power. A second powerful influence was of a different kind, viz. municipal jealousy of church power. The municipal authority in those times claimed the right to exercise a censorship over the citizens' private life. Any attempt on the part of the Church to exercise discipline was resented as an intrusion. It has been a common mistake to think of Calvin and contemporary Reformers 'See Lightfoot's Essay in Commentary on the Epistle co the Philippians. ' Knox, Winran, Spotswood and Douglas—all of them John—were the other commissioners. as introducing a discipline of stern repression which made the innocent gaieties of life impossible, and produced a dull uniformity of straitlaced manners and hypocritical morals. The discipline was there before the Reformers. There were civil laws which regulated clothing, food and social festivity. Hence friction, at times, between the Reformers and civic authorities friendly to the Reformation; not as to whether there should be " discipline " (that was never doubted) but as to whether it should be ecclesiastical or municipal. Even, therefore, where people desired the Reformation there were powerful influences opposed to the setting up of church government and to the exercise of church discipline after the manner of the apostolic Church; and one ceases to wonder at the absence of complete Presbyterianism in the countries which were forward to embrace and adopt the Reformation. Indeed the more favourable the secular authorities were to the Reformation the less need was there to discriminate between civil and ecclesiastical power, and to define strictly how the latter should be exercised. We look in vain, therefore, for much more than the germs and principles of Presbyterianism in the churches of the first Reformers. Its evolution and the thorough application of its principles to actual church life came later, not in Saxony or Switzer-land, but in France and Scotland; and through Scotland it has passed to all English-speaking lands. The doctrines of Presbyterianism are those generally known as evangelical and Calvinistic. The supreme standard of Theology. belief is the Word of God in the original languages. The subordinate standards have been numerous, though marked by striking agreement in the main body of Christian doctrine which they set forth. Much has been done of late years to make these subordinate standards of reformed doctrine more generally known. The following list is fairly complete: Switzerland.—First Helvetic Confession (1536). Geneva Confession (1J36). Geneva Catechism (1545). England.—Forty-two Articles (1553). Thirty-eight Articles (1563). Thirty-nine Articles (1571). Lambeth Articles (1595). Irish Articles (1615). Westminster Confession (1644-1647). Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1647). France.—Confessio gallicana (1559). Scotland.—Scottish Confession (1560). Westminster Confession (1647). Larger and Shorter Catechisms (1647). Netherlands.—Frisian Confession (1528). Confessio belgica (1561). Netherlands Confession (1566). Hungary. Hungarian Confession (1562). Bohemia. Bohemian Confession (1609). The form of worship associated with Presbyterianism has been marked by extreme simplicity. It consists of reading of Presby- Holy Scripture, psalmody, non-liturgical prayer terian and preaching. There is nothing in the standards Worship, of the Presbyterian Church against liturgical worship. In some of the early books of order a few forms of prayer were given, but their use was not compulsory. On the whole, the preponderating preference has always been in favour of so-called extemporaneous, or free prayer; and the Westminster Directory of Public Worship has to a large extent stereotyped the form and order of the service in most Presbyterian churches. Within certain broad outlines much, perhaps too much, is left to the choice of individual congregations. It used to be customary among Presbyterians to stand during public prayer, and to remain seated during the acts of praise, but this peculiarity is no longer maintained. The psalms rendered into metre were formerly the only vehicle of the Church's public praise, but hymns are now also used in most Presbyterian churches.' Organs used to be. regarded as contrary to New Testament example, but their use is now all but universal. The public praise used to be led by an individual called the " precentor," who occupied a box in front of, and a little lower than, the pulpit. Choirs of male and female voices now lead the church praise. Presbyterianism has two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper. Baptism is administered both to infants and adults by Sacraments. pouring or sprinkling, but the mode is considered immaterial. The Lord's Supper, as generally ob- served throughout the various Presbyterian churches, is a close ' Principal Rous's version is the best known and most widely used. It is an English work. Somewhat reluctantly it was accepted by Scottish Presbyterianism as a substitute for an older version with a greater variety of metre and music. " Old Hundred " and " Old 124th " mean the tooth and 124th Psalms in that old book.imitation of the New Testament practice ; and where it is not marred by undue prolixity commends itself to most Christian people as a solemn and impressive service. The old plan of coming out and taking one's place at the communion table in the body of the church is unhappily seen no more; communicants now receive the sacred elements seated in their pews. The dispensing of this rite is strictly reserved to an ordained minister, who is assisted by elders in handing the bread and the cup to the people. The administration of private communion to the sick and dying is extremely rare in Presbyterian churches, but there is less objection to it than formerly, and in some churches it is even encouraged. Presbyterian discipline is now entirely confined to exclusion from membership or from office. Though it is the duty of a minister to warn against irreverent or profane participation in Discipline. the Lord's Supper, he himself has no right to exclude any one from communion; that can only be done as the act of himself and the elders duly assembled in session. A code of instructions for the guidance of church courts when engaged in cases of discipline is in general use, and bears witness to the extreme care taken not only to have things done decently and in order, but also to prevent hasty, impulsive and illogical procedure in the investigation of charges of heresy or immorality. Cases of discipline are now comparatively rare, and, when they do occur, are not characterized by the bigoted severity which prevailed in former times and was rightly denounced as unchristian. The extent to which the Presbyterian form of church government prevails throughout the world has been made more manifest in recent years by the formation of a " General Council of the Alliance of Reformed Churches holding the Presbyterian System." At a representative conference in London in 1875 the constitution of the council was agreed upon. The first council met in Edinburgh in 1877. Since then it has met in Philadelphia, Belfast, London, Toronto, Glasgow, Washington and Liverpool. Churches which are organized on Presbyterian principles and hold doctrines in harmony with the reformed confessions are eligible for admission to the alliance. The object is not to form one great Presbyterian organization, but to promote unity and fellowship among the numerous branches of Presbyterianism throughout the world. On the roll of the general council held at Washington in 1899 there were sixty-four churches. The statistics of these and of sixteen others not formally in the alliance were 29,476 congregations, 26,251 ministers, 126,607 elders and 4,852,096 communicants. Of these eighty churches, twelve were in the United Kingdom, twenty on the continent of Europe, sixteen in North America, three in South America, ten in Asia, nine in Africa, six in Australia, two in New Zealand, one in Jamaica and one in Melanesia. The desire for union which led to the formation of the alliance has, since 1875, borne remarkable fruit. In England in 1876 two churches united to form the Presbyterian Church of England; in the Netherlands two churches be-came one in 1892; in South Africa a union of the different branches of the Presbyterian Church took place in 1897; in Scotland the Free Church and the United Presbyterian became one in 190o under the designation of the United Free Church; in Australia and Tasmania six churches united in 1901 to form the Presbyterian Church of Australia; and a few months later the two churches in New Zealand which represented respectively the North and South Islands united to form the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand. " In no portion of the empire," it has been said, " does the British flag now fly over a divided Presbyterianism, except in the British Isles themselves." II.—HISTORY IN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES From this general outline of Presbyterianism we now turn to consider its evolution and history in some of the countries with which it is or has been specially associated. We omit, however, one of the most important, viz. Scotland, as the history is fully covered under the separate headings of SCOTLAND, CHURCH OF, and allied articles. Switzerland. The Swiss, owing to their peculiar geographical position and to certain political circumstances, early manifested independence in ecclesiastical matters, and became accustomed to the General Statistics. management of their church affairs. The work of Zwingli as a Reformer, important and thorough though it was, did not concern itself mainly with church polity. Ecclesiastical affairs were, as a matter of course, wholly under the management of the cantonal and municipal authorities, and Zwingli was content that it should be so. The work of Farel, previous to his coming to Geneva, was almost entirely evangelistic, and his first work in Geneva was of a similar character. It was the town council which made arrangements for religious disputations, and provided for the housing and maintenance of the preachers. When Calvin. Calvin, at Farel's invitation, settled in Geneva (1536) the work of reformation became more constructive. " The need of the hour was organization and familiar instruction, and Calvin set himself to work at once." The first reforms he wished to see introduced concerned the Lord's Supper, church praise, religious instruction of youth and the regulation of marriage. In connexion with the first he desired that the discipline de l'excommunication should be exercised. His plan was partly Presbyterian and partly consistorial. Owing to certain circumstances in its past history, Geneva was notoriously immoral. " The rule of dissolute bishops, and the example of a turbulent and immoral clergy, had poisoned the morals of the city. Even the nuns of Geneva were notorious for their conduct."' Calvin suggested that men of known worth should be appointed in different quarters of the city to report to the ministers those persons in their district who lived in open sin; that the ministers should then warn such persons not to come to the communion; and that, if their warnings were unheeded, discipline should be enforced. It was on this subject of keeping pure the Lord's Table that the controversy arose between the ministers and the town councillors which ended in the banishment of Calvin, Farel and Conrad from Geneva. In 1538 the ministers took upon themselves to refuse to administer the Lord's Supper in Geneva because the city, as represented by its council, declined to submit to church discipline. The storm then broke out, and the ministers were banished (1538). It may be convenient at this point to consider Calvin's ideal church polity, as set forth in his famous Christianae religionis institutio, the first edition of which was published in 1536. Briefly it was as follows: A separate ministry is an ordinance of God (Inst. iv. 3, i. 3). Ministers duly called and ordained may alone preach and ad-minister the sacraments (iv. 3, to). A legitimate ministry is one appointed with the consent and approbation of the people under the presidency of other pastors by whom the final act of ordination (with laying on of hands) shall be performed (iv. 3, 15). Governors or persons of advanced years selected from the people and associated with the ministers in admonishing and exercising discipline (iv. 3, 8). This discipline is all-important, and is the special business of the governors. His system, while preserving the democratic theory by recognizing the congregation as holding the church power, was in practice strictly aristocratic inasmuch as the congregation is never allowed any direct use of power, which is invested in the whole body of elders. His great object was discipline. With regard to the relations between the Church and the civil power, Calvin was opposed to the Zwinglian theory whereby all ecclesiastical power was handed over to the state. Calvin's refusal to administer the sacrament, for which he was banished from Geneva, is important as a matter of ecclesiastical history, because it is the essence of the whole system which he subsequently introduced. It rests on the principles that the Church has the right to exclude those who are unworthy, and that she is in no way subject to the civil power in spiritual matters. During the three years of his banishment Calvin was at Strassburg, where he had been carrying out his ideas. His recall was greatly to his honour. The town had become a prey to anarchy. One party threatened to return to Romanism; another threatened to sacrifice the independence of Geneva and submit to Berne. It was felt to be a political necessity that he should return, and in 1541, somewhat reluctantly, he returned on his own terms. These were the recognition of the Church's spiritual independence, the division of the town into parishes, and the appointment (by the municipal authority) of a consistory or council of elders in each parish for the exercise of discipline. These terms were embodied in the famous Ordonnances ecclesiastiques de l'eglise de Geneve (1541). The four orders mentioned 3 Lindsay, Hist. of the Reform. ii. the Institutio are recognized: pastors, doctors, elders and deacons. The pastors were to preach, administer the sacraments, and in conjunction with the elders to exercise discipline. In their totality they form the venerable compagnie. A newly-made pastor was to be settled in a fixed charge by the magistrate with the consent of the congregation, after having been approved as to knowledge and manner of life by the pastors already in office. By them he was to be ordained, after vowing to be true in office, faithful to the church system, obedient to the laws and to the civil government, and ready to exercise discipline without fear or favour. The doctors were to teach the faithful in sound learning, to guard purity of doctrine, and to be amenable to discipline. The elders (Anciens, commis, ou deputes par la seigneurie ou consistoire) were regarded as the essential part of the system. They were the bond of union between Church and state. Their business was to supervise daily life, to warn the disorderly, and to give notice to the consistory of cases requiring discipline. To form the consistory all the elders with the ministers were to meet every Sunday under the presidency of one of the syndics or magistrates. This court could award censures up to exclusion from the sacrament. Manifestly the arrangement was a compromise. The state retained control of the ecclesiastical organization, and Calvin secured his much-needed system of discipline. Fourteen years of friction and struggle followed, and if there came after them a period of comparative triumph and repose for the great reformer it must still be remembered that he was never able to have his ideal ecclesiastical organization fully realized in the city of his adoption. The early Presbyterianism of Switzerland was defective in the following respects: (1) It started from a wrong definition of the Church, which, instead of being conceived as an organized community of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, was made to depend upon the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments. As these implied a duly appointed minister, the existence of the Church was made to depend upon an organized ministry rather than an organized membership. It calls to mind the Romish formula: "Ubi episcopus ibi ecclesia." (2) It did not maintain the scriptural right of the people to choose their minister and other office-bearers. (3) Its independence of civil control was very imperfect. (4) And it did not by means of church courts provide for the manifestation of the Church's unity and for the concentration of the Church's influence. " Calvin," says Principal Lindsay, " did three things for Geneva all of which went far beyond its walls. He gave its Church a trained ministry, its homes an educated people who could give a reason for their faith, and the whole city an heroic soul which enabled the little town to stand forth as the citadel and city of refuge for the oppressed Protestants of Europe." 2 France. It is pathetic and yet inspiring to study the development of Presbyterianism in France; pathetic because it was in a time of fierce persecution that the French Protestants organized themselves into churches; and inspiring, because it showed the power which scriptural organization gave them to withstand incessant, unrelenting hostility. It would be difficult to exaggerate the influence of Calvin upon French Protest- antism. His Christianae religionis institutio became Imo' nce. a standard round which his countrymen rallied in the work and battle of the Reformation. Though under thirty years of age, he became all over Europe, and in an exceptional degree in France, the leader, organizer and consolidator of the Reformation. The work which the young Frenchman did for his countrymen was immense.3 The year 7555 may be taken as the date when French Protestant-ism began to be organized. A few churches had been organized earlier, at Meaux in 1546 and at Nimes in 1547, but their members had been dispersed by persecution. T'''ench Prior to 1555 the Protestants of France had been for Protes tant- the most part solitary Bible students or little companies ism. meeting together for worship without any organization. But in that year the following incident was the beginning of a great movement. A small company had been accustomed to meet in the lodging of the sieur de la Ferriere in Paris near the Pre-aux-Cleres. At one of the meetings the father of a newly-born child explained that he could not go outside France to seek a pure baptism and that his conscience would not permit his child to be baptized according to the rites of the Romish Church. After prayer the company constituted themselves into a church: chose Jean le Macon to be their minister, and others of their number to be elders and deacons. It seemed as if all France had been waiting for this event as a signal, for organized churches began to spring up every- 2 Hist. of the Reform. ii. 31. 2 Ibid. ii. 158. where immediately afterwards. Within two years Meaux, Poitiers, national and provincial. Under the protection of the edict the Angers, les Iles de Saintonge, Agen, Bourges, Issoudun, Aubigny, Blois, Tours, Lyon, Orleans and Rouen were organized. Thirty-six more were completely organized by 1560.1 According to Beza there were about this time 2150 organized churches. A few years later Cardinal St Croix reckoned that the Huguenots were one half of the population. One hundred and twenty-seven pastors had been sent to France from Geneva before 1567. In 1558 a further stage in the development of Presbyterian church polity was reached. Some doctrinal differences having First arisen in the church at Poitiers, Antoine de Chandieu, General minister at Paris, went to compose them, and, as the synod. result of a conference, a synod was convened to meet in Paris the following year (1559). It was the first general synod of the French Protestant Church, and consisted of representatives from, some say sixty-six, others, twelve churches. It adopted a confession of faith and a book of order or discipline. The confession consisted of forty articles. It was based on a short confession drafted by Calvin in 1557, and may still be regarded, though once or twice revised, as the confession of the French 1787 the Edict of Tolerance was published. In 1789 all citizens Protestant Church. The book of order, Discipline ecclesiastique were made equal before the law, and the position of Presbyterianism des eglises reformees de France, regulated the organization and pro- improved till 1791. In 1801 and 1802 Napoleon took into his own cedure of the churches. It contains this fundamental statement hands the independence of both Catholic and Protestant Churches, the of Presbyterian parity, " Aucune eglise ne pourra pretendre primaute national synod was abolished, and all active religious propaganda ni domination sur 1'autre; ni pareillement, les ministres d'une was rigorously forbidden. In 1848 an assembly representative eglise les uns sur les autres; ni les anciens ou diacres, les uns sur of the eglises consistoriales met at Paris. When it refused to discuss les autres." The various church courts, familiar to us now as points of doctrine a secession took place under the name of the Presbyterian, are explained. The consistoire or session consisted Union des eglises evangeliques de France. This society held a synod of the minister, elders and deacons (the latter without a vote), at which a confession of faith and a book of order were drawn up. and was over the congregation. The colloque or presbytery was Meanwhile the national Protestant Church set itself to the work composed of representative ministers and elders (anciens) from a of reconstruction on the basis of universal suffrage, with restrictions, group of congregations. Next in order was the provincial synod but no result was arrived at. In 1852 a change took place in its which consisted of a minister and an elder or deacon from each constitution. The iglises consistoriales were abolished, and in each church in the province. Over all was the general or national parish a presbyterial council was appointed, the minister being synod. Some of the arrangements are worthy of notice. When president, with four to seven elders chosen by the people. In the a church was first formed the office bearers were elected by the large towns there were consistories composed of all the ministers people, but there the power of the congregation ceased. Future vacancies in the eldership were filled up by the office-bearers. The eldership was not for life, but there was always a tendency to make it so. When the ministry of a church became vacant the choice of a successor rested with the colloque or with the provincial synod. The people, however, might object, and if their objection was considered valid redress was given. Later the synod of Nimes (1572) decreed that no minister might be imposed upon an unwilling people. Deacons, in addition to having charge of the poor and sick, might catechize, and occasionally offer public prayer or read a written sermon. The president or moderator of each church court was Primus inter pares. The remarkable feature of French church polity was its aristocratic nature, which it owed to the system of co-optation; and the exclusion of the congregation from direct and frequent interference in spiritual matters prevented many evils which result from too much intermeddling on the part of the laity. Up to 1565 the national synod consisted of a minister with one or two elders or deacons from every church; after that date, to avoid overcrowding, its numbers were restricted to representatives from each provincial synod. On questions of discipline elders and deacons might vote; on doctrinal questions only as many of these as there were ministers. " II is interesting to see how in a country whose civil rule was becoming gradually more absolutist, this ' Church under the cross' framed for itself a government which reconciled, more thoroughly perhaps than has ever been done since, the two principles of popular rights and supreme control. Its constitution has spread to Holland, Scotland (Ireland, England), and to the great American (and Colonial) churches. Their ecclesiastical polity came much more from Paris than from Geneva."2 To trace the history of Presbyterianism in France for the next thirty years would be to write the history of France Itself during that period. We should have to tell of the great and rapid increase of the Church; of its powerful influence among the nobles and the bourgeoisie ; of its direful persecutions ; of its St Bartholomew massacre with 70,000 victims; of its regrettable though perhaps inevitable entanglements in politics and war; and finally of its attaining not only tolerance but also honourable recognition and protection when Henry IV. in 1598 signed the famous edict of Nantes. This secured complete liberty of conscience everywhere within the realm and the free right of public worship in all places in which it existed during the years 1596 and 1597, or where it had been granted by the edict of Poitiers (1577) interpreted by the convention of Nerac (1578) and the treaty of Fleix (1580)—In all some two hundred towns; in two places in every bailliage and senechaussee; in the castles of Protestant seigneurs hauts justiciers (some three thousand) ; and in the houses of lesser nobles, provided the audience did not consist of more than thirty persons aver and above relations of the family. Protestants were granted full civil rights and protection, and were permitted to hold their ecclesiastical assemblies—consistories, colloquies and synods, 1 Lindsay, Hist. of the Reform. ii. 166. 2 Ibid. ii. 169. Huguenot Church of France flourished. Theological colleges were established at Sedan, Montauban and Saumur, and French theology became a counterpoise to the narrow Reformed scholastic of Switzerland and Holland.' The history of the Church from the passing of the edict of Nantes till its revocation in 1685 cannot be given here. That event was the climax of a long series of horrors. Under the persecution, a large number were killed, and between four and five millions of Protestants left the country. Early in the 18th century Antoine Court made marvellous efforts to restore Presbyterianism. In momentary peril of death for fifteen years, he restored in the Vivarais and the Cevennes Presbyterian church polity in all its integrity. In 1715 he assembled his first colloque. Synods were held in 1718, 1723, 1726 and 1727; and in a remote spot in Bas Languedoc in 1744 a national synod assembled—the first since 166o—which consisted of representatives from every province formerly Protestant. From 1760 owing to the gradual spread of the sceptical spirit and the teaching of Voltaire more tolerant views prevailed. In and of delegates from the various parishes. Over all was the central provincial council consisting of the two senior ministers and fifteen members nominated by the state in the first instance. In 1858 there were 617 pastors and the Union des eglises evangeliques numbered 27 churches. The Netherlands. From the geographical position of the Netherlands, Presbyterianism there took its tone from France. In 1562 the Confessio belgica was publicly acknowledged, and in 1563 the church order was arranged. In 1574 the first provincial synod of Holland and Zealand was held, but William of Orange would not allow any action to be taken independently of the state. The Reformed churches had established themselves in independence of the state when that state was Catholic; when the government became Protestant the Church had protection and at the same time became dependent. It was a state church. By the union of Utrecht the communes and provinces had each the regulation of its own religion; hence constant conflict. In most cases it was insisted on as necessary that church discipline should remain with the civil authority. In 1576 William, with the support of Holland, Zeeland and their allies, put forth forty articles, by which doctors, elders and deacons were recognized, and church discipline given to the elders, subject to appeal to the magistrate and by which the Church was placed in absolute dependence on the state. These articles, however, never came into operation; and the decisions of the synod of Dort in 1578, which made the Church independent. were equally fruitless. In 1581 the Middelburg Synod divided the Church, created provincial synods and presbyteries, but could not shake off the civil power in connexion with the choice of church officers. Thus, although the congregations were Presbyterian, the civil government retained overwhelming influence. The Leiden magistrates said in 1581: " If we accept everything determined upon in the synod, we shall end by being vassals of the synod. We will not open to churchmen a door for a new mastership over government and subjects, wife and child." From 1618 a modified Presbyterian polity predominated. As a rule elders held office for only two years. The " kerk-raad " (kirk-session) met weekly, the magistrate being a member ex oficio. The colloque consisted of one minister and one elder from each congregation. At the annual provincial synod, held by consent of the states, two ministers and one 3 Ibid. ii. 222, 223. elder attended from each calque. Every congregation was visited by ministers appointed by the provincial synod. In 179, of course, everything was upset, and it was not until after the restoration of the Netherland States that a new organization was formed in 1816. Its main features were strictly Presbyterian, but the minister was greatly superior to the elder, and the state had wide powers especially in the nomination of higher officers. In 1851 the system now in force was adopted. The congregation chooses all the officers, and these form a church council. England. Presbyterian principles and ideas were entertained by many of the leading ecclesiastics in England during the reign of Edward VI. Even the archbishop of Canterbury favoured a modification of episcopacy, and an approach to Presbyterian polity and dicipline; but attention was mainly directed to the settlement of doctrine and worship. Cranmer wrote that bishops and priests were not different but the same in the beginning of Christ's religion. Thirteen bishops subscribed this proposition: that in the New Testament there is no mention made of any distinctions or degrees in orders but only deacons and priests or bishops. Cranmer held that the consecration of a bishop was an unnecessary rite, and not required by Scripture; that election and appointment to office were sufficient. The bishop of St Davids was of the same opinion. Latimer and Hooper maintained that Bishops and presbyters were identical; and Pilkington, bishop of Durham, and Bishop Jewel were of the same mind. The latter, about the time of Elizabeth's succession, expressed his hope that the bishops would become pastors, labourers and watchmen; and that the great riches of bishoprics would be diminished and reduced to mediocrity; that, being delivered from courtly and regal pomp, the bishops might take care of the flock of Christ. During the reign of Edward, the title of superintendent was often adopted instead of bishop, and it will be recollected that John Knox was an honoured worker in England with the title of superintendent during this reign. As an indication of sympathy with Presbyterianism, it may be noted that Cranmer favoured a proposal for the formation of a council of presbyters in each diocese, and for provincial synods. During 1567 and 1568 the persecutions in France and Holland drove thousands of Protestants, mostly Presbyterians, to England. In 1570 Presbyterian views found a distinguished exponent in Dr Thomas Cartwright at Cambridge; and the temper of parliament was shown by the act of 1571, for the reform of disorders in the Church, in which, while all mention of doctrine is omitted, the doctrinal articles alone being sanctioned, ordination without a bishop is implicitly recognized. In 1572 a formal manifesto was published, entitled an Admonition to Parliament, the leading ideas in which were: parity of ministers, appointment of elders and deacons; election of ministers by the congregation; objection to prescribed prayer and antiphonal chanting; preaching, the cnief duty of a minister; and the power of the magistrates to root out superstition and idolatry. On Presbytery the loth of November 1572 the authors of the '` Ad-of Wands- monition " set up at Wandsworth what has been worttr, called the first presbytery in England. They adopted a purely Presbyterian system which was published as the Orders of Wandsworth. Similar associations or presbyteries were formed in London and in the midland and eastern counties; but the privy council was hostile. Only in Jersey and Guernsey, whither large numbers of Huguenots had fled after the St Bartholomew massacre, was Presbyterianism fully permitted. Cartwright and Edmund Snape were ministers there; and from 1576 to 1625 a completely appointed Presbyterian Church existed, under the rule of synods, and authorized by the governor. The action of the Commons in 1584, stimulated by the opposition of the Lords, showed that the principles of Presbyterianism were strongly held. Bills were introduced to reduce the position of a bishop to well-nigh that of prirnus inter pares; to place the power of veto in the congregation; to abolish the canon law and to establish a presbytery it every parish. These proposals were rendered abortive by the unflinching use of the queen's prerogative. In 164o Henderson, Baillie, Blair and Gillespie came to London as commissioners from the General Assembly in Scotland, in response to a request from ministers in London who desired to see the Church of England more closely modelled after the Reformed type. They were able men, whose preaching drew great crowds, and increased the desire for the establishment .of
PRESBYTER (Gr. apactObTepos, elder, the comparative...

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