1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Presbyterianism
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 In episcopacy the control of church affairs is almost entirely withdrawn from the people; in congregationalism it is almost entirely exercised by the people; in Presbyterianism it rests with a council composed of duly appointed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. Membership.Others who worship regularly without becoming communicants are called adherents. Only communicants 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. Kirk-Session.It consists of the ministers and ruling elders. The minister 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 to the 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.The presbytery chooses its moderator periodically from among its ministerial members. His duty is to see 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 safeguard 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, The Synod.in the same way as 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 The General Assembly.sent direct to it from every congregation, or, as in the Scottish General Assemblies, by a proportion of delegates, 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 Concillar Courts. of the whole is made possible; and disputes, instead of being fought out where they arise, are carried for settlement 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 byNew Testament Authority. the people, and ordained or set apart for their sacred work by the Apostles. The elders were appointed to 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; the elders amongst the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia received a special exhortation by Peter. 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. 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; 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. 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"; 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 Presbyterianism 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."
From the foregoing outline it will be seen that Presbyterianism may be said to consist in the government of the Church byAlternative Definitions. representative assemblies composed of the two 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 (1) 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 (1) 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.
Though Presbyterians are unanimous in adopting the general system of church polity as here outlined, and in claiming New Testament authority for it, there are certain differences of view in regard to details which may be noticed. There is no doubt Divergent Views.that considerable indefiniteness in regard to the precise status and rank of the ruling elder is commonly 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 Theories of the Ruling Elder.as teaching elders and ruling elders. In teaching, in dispensing the sacraments, in presiding over public worship, and in the private functions by which he ministers to the comfort, the instruction and the improvement 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."
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.
III. A third theory, advanced by Professor Witherow and others, is that the modern elder is intended to be, and should be, recognized as a copy of the scriptural presbyter. Those who take this view hold that "in everything except training and the consequences of training the elder is the very same as the minister," and they base their opinion on the fact that the terms "overseer" or "bishop," "presbyter" and "elder," are used interchangeably throughout the New Testament. It is consistent with this view to argue the absolute parity of ministers and elders, conceding to all presbyters "equal right to teach, to rule, to administer the sacraments, to take part in the ordination of ministers, and to preside in church courts."
The practice of the Presbyterian churches of the present day is in accord with the first-named theory. Where attempts Present-day Practice.are made to reduce the third theory to practice the result is not satisfactory. Nor is the first-named, 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. It is now held by all Presbyterian churches that one presbyter in every congregation should have specially committed to him the work 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 invaluable.
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 lawfulness 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 fundamentalSpiritual independence. principle of Presbyterianism. That principle is equally opposed to Erastianism and to Papacy, 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. The first Christians were regarded, even by themselves, as a Jewish sect. They were spoken of as "the way." 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 seem, 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 church polity is apostolic Presbyterians are accustomed to appeal to the New Testament and to the time when the apostles Historic Episcopacy.were still living; and for proof of the apostolicity of prelacy Episcopalians appeal rather to the early 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 The Reformers.of light upon all church questions. The leaders of the Reformation searched the New Testament not only for 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 Leaders of the Reformed Church.Christian life and was indifferent to forms of church polity, they studied the New Testament not only in search of primitive church doctrine but also of primitive church polity. One is struck by the unanimity with 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 examples 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 Early Hindrances.polity. Powerful influences hindered them from realizing their ideal. We notice two. In the first place, the 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 excommunication, 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 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 Switzerland, 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 (1536). Geneva Catechism (1545).
England.—Forty-two Articles (1553). Thirty-eight Articles (1565). 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 Presbyterian Worship.Holy Scripture, psalmody, non-liturgical prayer and preaching. There is nothing in the standards 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 "preceptor," 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 observed throughout the various Presbyterian churches, is a close 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 ministerDiscipline. to warn against irreverent or profane participation in 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 General Statistics.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 became 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 1900 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.
The Swiss, owing to their peculiar geographical position and to certain political circumstances, early manifested independence in ecclesiastical matters, and became accustomed to the 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 administer the sacraments (iv. 3, 10).
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 the 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 ecclésiastiques de l'église de Genève (1541). The four orders mentioned in 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 vénérable 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 deputez 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.”
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 Calvin's influence. the influence of Calvin upon French Protestantism. His Christianae religionis institutio became 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.
The year 1555 may be taken as the date when French Protestantism began to be organized. A few churches had been organized French Protestantism. earlier, at Meaux in 1546 and at Nîmes in 1547, but their members had been dispersed by persecution. Prior to 1555 the Protestants of France had been for the most part solitary Bible students or little companies 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 Ferrière in Paris near the Pré-aux-Clercs. 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 Maçon 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
In 1558 a further stage in the development of Presbyterian church polity was reached. Some doctrinal differences havingFirst
Synod. arisen in the church at Poitiers, Antoine de Chandieu, minister at Paris, went to compose them, and, as the 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 Protestant Church. The book of order, Discipline ecclesiastique des églises réformées de France, regulated the organization and procedure of the churches. It contains this fundamental statement of Presbyterian parity, "Aucune église ne pourra prétendre primaute ni domination sur l'autre; ni pareillement, les ministries d'une église les uns sur les autres; ni les anciens ou diacres, les uns sur les autres." The various church courts, familiar to us now as Presbyterian, are explained. The consistoire or session consisted of the minister, elders and deacons (the latter without a vote), and was over the congregation. The colloque or presbytery was composed of representative ministers and elders (anciens) from a group of congregations. Next in order was the provincial synod which consisted of a minister and an elder or deacon from each church in the province. Over all was the general or national synod. Some of the arrangements are worthy of notice. When a church was first formed the office bearers were elected by the 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 Nîmes (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 inter meddling 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.
"It 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."
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 Nérac (1578) and the treaty of Fleix (1580)—in all some two hundred towns; in two places in every bailliage and sénéchaussée; 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 over 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, national and provincial. Under the protection of the edict the 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 Cévennes 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 1660—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 1787 the Edict of Tolerance was published. In 1789 all citizens were made equal before the law, and the position of Presbyterianism improved till 1791. In 1801 and 1802 Napoleon took into his own hands the independence of both Catholic and Protestant Churches, the national synod was abolished, and all active religious propaganda was rigorously forbidden. In 1848 an assembly representative of the églises consistoriales met at Paris. When it refused to discuss points of doctrine a secession took place under the name of the Union des églises évangéliques de France. This society held a synod at which a confession of faith and a book of order were drawn up. Meanwhile the national Protestant Church set itself to the work of reconstruction on the basis of universal suffrage, with restrictions, but no result was arrived at. In 1852 a change took place in its constitution. The églises consistoriales were abolished, and in each parish a presbyterial council was appointed, the minister being president, with four to seven elders chosen by the people. In the large towns there were consistories composed of all the ministers 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 églises évangéliques numbered 27 churches.
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 officio. 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 elder attended from each colloque. Every congregation was visited by ministers appointed by the provincial synod. In 1795, 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.
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 discipline; 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 chief duty of a minister; and the power of the magistrates to root out superstition and idolatry. On Presbytery of Wandsworth.the 20th of November 1572 the authors of the "Admonition" set up at Wandsworth what has been 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 primus inter pares; to place the power of veto in the congregation; to abolish the canon law and to establish a presbytery in every parish. These proposals were rendered abortive by the unflinching use of the queen's prerogative.
In 1640 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 Presbyterianism. In 1642 the Long Parliament abolished Episcopacy The
Assembly.(the act to come into force on the 5th of November 1643); and summoned an assembly of divines to meet at Westminster in June 1643 to advise parliament as to the new form of Church government. The Westminster Assembly, through its Confession, Directory and Catechisms, has become so associated with the Presbyterian Church that it is difficult to realize that it was not a church court at all, much less a creation of Presbyterianism.
It was a council created by parliament to give advice in church matters at a great crisis in the nation's history; but its acts, though from the high character and great learning of its members worthy of deepest respect, did not per se bind parliament or indeed anyone. It was, in a very real sense, representative of the whole country, as two members were chosen by parliament from each county. The number summoned was 151, viz. ten lords, twenty members of the House of Commons, and one hundred and twenty-one ministers. The ministers were mostly Puritans; by their ordination, &c., Episcopalian; and for the most part strongly impressed with the desirability of nearer agreement with the Church of Scotland, and other branches of the Reformed Church on the Continent. About one-half of the members attended regularly. Those who were out-and-out Episcopalians did not attend at all. Apart from these, there were three well-defined parties: (1) those with Presbyterian ideas and sympathies, a great majority; (2) Erastians, ably represented and led by Selden, Lightfoot and Coleman; (3) Independents, ten or eleven in number, led by Philip Nye, and assured of Cromwell's support. Then there were the Scottish commissioners who, though without votes, took a leading part in the proceedings. Judged by the objects for which it was summoned the Westminster Assembly was a failure, a remarkable failure. Episcopacy, Erastianism and Independency, though of little account in the assembly, were to bulk largely in England's future; while the church polity which the assembly favoured and recommended was to be almost unknown. Judged in other ways, however, the influence of the assembly's labours has been very great. The Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms are recognized and venerated standards in all the lands where British Presbyterianism, with its sturdy characteristics, has taken root. And the Directory of Public Worship has shaped and coloured, perhaps too thoroughly, the ritual and atmosphere of every group of Protestant Anglo-Saxon worshippers throughout the world, except Episcopalians.
In June 1646 the ordinance establishing presbyteries was ratified by both houses of parliament, and a few days afterwards it was ordered to be put into execution. Twelve presbyteries were erected in London; Shropshire and Lancashire were organized; and Bolton was so vigorous in the cause as to gain the name of the Geneva of Lancashire. But the system never took root. Not only were there well-known adverse influences, but the soil seems to have been uncongenial. As compared with Scotland, English Presbyterianism had more of the lay element. In every classis or presbytery there were two elders to each minister. The Synod Synod of
London.of London met half-yearly from 1647 till 1655. Synods also were held in the north. But during the Commonwealth Independency gained ground. Then with the Restoration came Episcopacy, and the persecution of all who were not Episcopalians; and the dream and vision of a truly Reformed English Church practically passed away.
After the Revolution and during the reign of William and Mary the hatred of the Church of England to the Presbyterians and Decadence.other dissenters had been obliged to lie dormant. With the accession of Anne, however, began an attempt apparently to make up for lost time. From the beginning of the 18th century the greater number of the Presbyterian congregations became practically independent in polity and Unitarian in doctrine. Indigenous Presbyterianism became almost unknown. The Presbyterianism now visible in England is of Scottish origin and Scottish type, and beyond the fact of embracing a few congregations which date from, or before, the Act of Uniformity and the Five Mile Act, has little in common with the Presbyterianism which was for a brief period by law established.
In 1876 the union of the Presbyterian Church in England with the English congregations of the United Presbyterian Church of Union in
1876.Scotland gathered all English Presbyterians (with some exceptions) into one church, "The Presbyterian Church of England." "What kept these bodies apart was their separate historic origin and development, but especially the alienation caused by the 'Voluntary Controversy' which had its roots in the difficult problems of civil law in its relation to religion, and the stumbling-block of the civil magistrate's authority in relation to the Christian conscience." Since the union the growth of the Church has been considerable. Presbyterianism is comparatively strong in three districts of England, namely Northumberland, Lancashire and London. Elsewhere it is either weak or nonexistent. Even where it is comparatively strong it is largely exotic. The membership is mainly Scottish, and the ministers have been imported principally from Scotland. To English people, therefore, the Presbyterian is still the "Scotch Church," and they are as a whole slow to connect themselves with it. Efforts have been made to counteract this feeling by making the Church more distinctly English. The danger in this direction is that when Presbyterianism has been modified far enough to suit the English taste it may be found less acceptable to its more stalwart supporters from beyond the Tweed. Following the lead of the Independents. who set up Mansfield College at Oxford, the Presbyterian Church has founded Westminster College at Cambridge as a substitute for its Theological Hall in London. It was opened in 1899 with the view of securing a home-bred ministry more conversant with English academic life and thought. In common with the general Presbyterianism of the British Isles, the Presbyterian Church of England has in recent years been readjusting its relation to the Westminster Confession of Faith. without setting aside the Confession as the church's standard, twenty-four "Articles of the Faith" have been adopted. In these no change, it is alleged, has been made in regard to the substance of the Westminster doctrine, but there is an alteration of emphasis and proportion.
There are in England fourteen congregations in connexion with the Church of Scotland, six of them in London and the remainder in Berwick, Northumberland, Carlisle and Lancashire.
Many Unitarians in England still call themselves Presbyterians. This, except historically, is a misnomer, for, though descended from the old English Presbyterians, they retain nothing of their distinctive doctrine or polity—nothing of Presbyterianism, indeed, but the name.
Presbyterianism in Ireland, in modern times at least, dates from the plantation of Ulster in the reign of James I. The infusion of a considerable Scottish element into the population necessitated the formation of a congenial church. The immigrants from England took with them, in like manner, their attachment to the Episcopal Church. But these two sections of Protestantism, in their common exile and in presence of the preponderating Roman Catholicism of the country, seemed at first inclined to draw closer together than had been thought possible in Great Britain. A confession of faith, drawn up by Archbishop Usher at the convocation of 1615, implicitly admitted the validity of Presbyterian ordination, and denied the distinction between bishop and presbyter. Within the Episcopal Church and supported by its endowments, Robert Blair, John Livingstone and other ministers maintained a Scottish Presbyterian communion.
From 1625 to 1638 the history of Irish Presbyterians is one of bare existence. Their ministers, silenced by Wentworth, after an ineffectual attempt to reach New England, fled to Scotland, and there took a leading part in the great movement of 1638. After the Irish rebellion of 1641 the Protestant interest for a time was ruined. A majority of the Ulster Protestants were Presbyterians, and in a great religious revival which took place the ministers of the Scottish regiments stationed in Ireland took a leading part. Kirk-sessions were formed in four regiments, and the first regular The First
Presbytery.presbytery was held at Carrickfergus on the 10th of June 1642, attended by five ministers and by ruling elders from the regimental sessions. This presbytery supplied ministers to as many congregations as possible; and for the remainder ministers were sent from Scotland. By the end of 1643 the Ulster Church was fairly established. Notwithstanding intervening reverses there were by 1647 nearly thirty ordained ministers in fixed charges in Ulster besides the chaplains of the Scottish regiments.
At the Restoration, in which they heartily co-operated, there were in Ulster seventy ministers in fixed charges, with nearly eighty parishes or congregations containing one hundred thousand persons. There were five presbyteries holding monthly meetings and annual visitations of all the congregations within their bounds, and coming together in general synod four times a year. Entire conformity with the Scottish Church was maintained, and strict discipline was enforced by pastoral visitations, kirk-sessions and presbyteries.
After the Restoration the determination of the government to put down Presbyterianism was speedily felt in Ireland. In 1661 the lords justices forbade all unlawful assemblies, and in these they included meetings of presbytery as exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction not warranted by the law. Bishop Jeremy Taylor was forward in this work of persecution. The ministers refused to take the Oath of Supremacy without the qualification suggested by Usher. Their parishes were declared vacant, and episcopal clergy appointed to them. The ejected ministers were forbidden to preach or administer the sacraments. In Ulster sixty-one ministers were ejected. Of seventy only seven conformed. Under Ormonde, in 1665, ministers were again permitted to revive Presbyterian worship and discipline, and for several years the Church prospered not only in Ulster but also in the south and west. In 1672 she received a yearly grant from Charles II. of £600 (regium donum), and under William III. the amount was considerably increased. It was continued till 1869.
In 1679 the rising in Scotland which ended in the battle of Bothwell Bridge brought trouble on the Irish Presbyterians in spite of their loyal addresses disowning it. It was not, however, till 1682 that they again lost the privilege of public ministry, and suffered severe oppression. They were opposed to James II., though they had benefited by his Declaration of Indulgence, and they were the first to congratulate the Prince of Orange on his arrival in England. The heroic defence of Londonderry owed much to them, as they were a majority of the population, and some of their ministers rendered conspicuous service. There were then in Ireland about a hundred congregations, seventy-five with settled ministers, under five presbyteries. Their preponderance in Ulster and their consciousness of their great service to England led them first of all to hope that Presbyterianism might be substituted for Episcopacy in Ulster, and afterwards, that it might be placed on an equal footing with the latter.
During the 18th century Irish Presbyterianism became infected with Arianism. Under the leadership of Dr Henry Cooke, a minister of rare ability and eloquence, the evangelical party triumphed in the church courts, and the Unitarians seceded and became a separate denomination. In 1840 the Synod of Ulster and the Secession Synod united to form the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland.
The Presbyterian Church in Ireland is the most conservative of the great Presbyterian churches in the United Kingdom. Her attitude is one of sturdy adherence to the old paths of evangelical doctrine and Presbyterian polity. She has been a zealous supporter of Irish national education, which is theoretically "united secular and separate religious instruction." The Church Act of 1869 which disestablished and disendowed the Irish Episcopal Church took away the Presbyterian regium donum. The ministers with all but absolute unanimity decided to commute their life-interest and form therewith a great fund for the support of the Church. The commutation fund thus formed is a permanent memorial of a generous and disinterested act on the part of her ministry. It amounted in 1902 to £588,028. The interest accruing from it is added to the yearly sustentation contributions, and forms a central fund for ministerial support. Since the state endowment ceased the average income of ministers from their congregations has considerably increased.
The Irish Presbyterian Church has set an example to all her sister churches by her forwardness to care for the poor. Her "Presbyterian Orphan Society" undertakes the support of every poor orphan child throughout the Church. No Presbyterian orphan child now needs to seek workhouse relief. The orphans are boarded in the homes of respectable poor people, who thus also benefit by the society. A scheme of pensions for her aged poor has been instituted.
Three small communities of Presbyterians maintain a separate autonomy in Ireland, viz. the Reformed Presbyterian Church, with thirty-six; the Eastern Reformed, with six; and the Secession Church, with ten congregations.
The Presbyterian Church of Wales, commonly known as the "Calvinistic Methodist," had its origin in the great evangelical revival of the 18th century. Its polity has been of gradual growth, and still retains some features peculiar to itself. In 1811 its preachers were first presbyterially ordained and authorized to administer the sacraments. In 1823 a Confession of Faith was adopted. In 1864 the two associations or synods of North and South Wales were united in a general assembly. Great attention is given to the education of the ministry, a considerable number of whom, in recent years, have taken arts degrees at Oxford and Cambridge. As far as the difference in language will permit, there is cordial fellowship and co-operation with the Presbyterian Church of England. The appetite of the Welsh people for sermons is enormous, and the preachers are characterized by an exceptionally high order of pulpit power. (W. Y.)
Presbyterianism in the United States is a reproduction and further development of Presbyterianism in Europe. The history of the American Presbyterian churches, excluding the two "Reformed" Churches (see Reformed Church in the United States for the German body, and Reformed Church in America for the Dutch body), may be divided into three periods.
1. The Colonial Period.—The earliest Presbyterian emigration consisted of French Huguenots under the auspices of Admiral Coligny, led to Port Royal, South Carolina, by Jean Ribaut in 1562, and to Florida (near the present St Augustine) by René de Laudonnière in 1564, and by Ribaut in 1565. The former enterprise was soon abandoned, and the colonists of the latter were massacred by the Spaniards. Under Pierre de Guast, sieur de Monts, Huguenots settled in Nova Scotia in 1604 but did not remain after 1607. Huguenot churches were formed on Staten Island, New York, in 1665; in New York City in 1683; at Charleston, South Carolina, in 1686; at Boston, Massachusetts, in 1687; at New Rochelle, New York, in 1688; and at other places. The Charleston church alone of these early churches maintains its independence of any American denomination.
English Puritans emigrated under the auspices of the Virginia Company to the Bermudas in 1612; and in 1617 a Presbyterian Church, governed by ministers and four elders, was established there by Lewis Hughes, who used the liturgy of the isles of Guernsey and Jersey. Beginning with 1620, New England was colonized by English Presbyterians of the two types which developed from the discussions of the Westminster Assembly (1643-1648) into Presbyterianism and Congregationalism. The Plymouth colony was rather of the Congregational type, and the Massachusetts Bay colony rather of the Presbyterian. These types co-operated as in Old England in the county associations; and a mixed system was produced, called by Henry M. Dexter "a Congregationalized Presbyterianism or a Presbyterianized Congregationalism." Presbyterianism was stronger in Connecticut than in Massachusetts. Thence it crossed into the Dutch settlements on the Hudson and the Delaware, and mingled with other elements in Virginia, Maryland and the Carolinas. Nine of these Puritan Presbyterian churches were established on Long Island between 1640 and 1670—one at Southampton and one at Southold (originally of the Congregational type) in 1640, one at Hempstead about 1644, one at Jamaica in 1662, and churches at Newtown and Setauket in the next half century; and three Puritan Presbyterian churches were established in Westchester county, New York, between 1677 and 1685. In New York City, Francis Doughty preached to Puritan Presbyterians in 1643; in 1650 he was succeeded by Richard Denton (1586-1662). Doughty preached in Virginia and Maryland in 1650-1659, and was the father of British Presbyterianism in the Middle Colonies. His work in Virginia and Maryland was carried on twenty-five years later by Francis Makemie (d. 1708).
Irish Presbyterianism was carried to America by an unknown Irish minister in 1668. Its foremost representative was Francis Makemie, already mentioned, who, in 1683, as an ordained minister of the presbytery of Laggan, was invited to minister to the Maryland and Virginia Presbyterians. In 1684 he acted as pastor of an Irish church at Elizabeth River, Virginia; in 1699 received permission from the colonial authorities to preach at Pocomoke and Onancock on the eastern shore of Virginia, and about 1700 organized a church at Snow Hill in Worcester county, Maryland; in 1704 he returned to America from a trip to Great Britain in which he had interested the Presbyterians of London, Dublin and Glasgow in the American churches, and brought back with him two ordained missionaries, John Hampton (d. c. 1721) and George McNish (1660-1723); in 1707 was imprisoned in New York City for preaching without licence, but was acquitted in 1708.
To the banks of the Delaware the clergy of New England sent missionaries: Benjamin Woodbridge went to Philadelphia in 1698 and was followed almost immediately by jedediah Andrews (1674-1746), who was ordained in 1701, and under whom the first Presbyterian church in Philadelphia was organized; in 1698 John Wilson (d. 1712) became pastor of a Presbyterian Church at New Castle, Delaware; Samuel Davis (d. 1725) seems to have preached as early as 1692 at Lewes, Delaware, and Nathaniel Taylor (d. 1710) was another of the New England missionaries along the Delaware river and bay. About 1695 Thomas Bridge, with Presbyterians from Fairfield county, Connecticut, settled at Cohansey, in West Jersey. These New England ministers in the Delaware valley, with Francis Makemie as moderator, organized in 1706 the first American presbytery, the presbytery of Philadelphia. In 1716 this presbytery became a synod by dividing itself into four "subordinate meetings or presbyteries," after the Irish model. The synod increased the number of its churches by a large accession from New York and from New Jersey, where there had been large Presbyterian settlements. The synod seems to have remained without a constitution and without subscription until 1729, when it adopted the Westminster standards. In 1732 the presbytery of "Dunagall" (Donegal) was established in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania.
Two parties had developed with the growth of the Church. The stricter party urged the adoption of the Westminster standards and conformity thereto; the broader party were unwilling to sacrifice their liberty. The former followed the model of the Church of Scotland; the liberal party sympathized with the London and Dublin Presbyterians. The two parties united under the act of 1729, which adopted the Westminster symbols "as being, in all the essential and necessary articles, good forms of sound words and systems of Christian doctrine." This adopting act allowed scruples as to "articles not essential and necessary in doctrine, worship or government"—the presbytery being judge in the case and not the subscriber. In 1730-1732 the stricter party in the presbyteries of New Castle and Donegal insisted on full subscription, and in 1736, in a minority synod, interpreted the adopting act according to their own views. The liberals put themselves on guard against the plotting of the other side. Friction was increased by a contest between Gilbert Tennent and his friends, who favoured Whitefield and his revival measures, and Robert Cross (1689-1766), pastor at Jamaica in 1723-1758, and his friends. The Tennents erected the Log College (on the Neshaminy, about 20 m. north of Philadelphia) to educate candidates for the ministry; and the synod in 1738 passed an act, aimed at the Log College, providing that all students not educated in the colleges of New England or Great Britain should be examined by a committee of synod, thus depriving the presbyteries of the right of determining in the case. The presbytery of New Brunswick declined to yield (1739). The Cross party charged the Tennents with heresy and disorder; the Tennents charged their opponents with ungodliness and tyranny. When the synod met in 1741 the moderate men remained away; and thus the synod broke in two. The New York presbytery declined at first to unite with either party, worked in vain for reconciliation, and finally joined with the Tennents in establishing the synod of New York (1745) which was called the New Side, in contradistinction to the synod of Philadelphia, the Old Side.
During the separation the New Side established the college of New Jersey at Elizabethtown (now Elizabeth) in 1747, and the Log College of the Tennents was merged into it. It was removed to Princeton in 1755, funds for its aid being received from England, Ireland and Scotland. The Old Side adopted the academy at New London, Chester county, Pennsylvania, which had been organized by Francis Alison in 1741, as their own; but the New London school broke up when Alison became a professor in the Philadelphia Academy (afterwards the university of Pennsylvania). During the separation the synod of Philadelphia decreased from twenty-six to twenty-two ministers, but the synod of New York grew from twenty to seventy-two ministers, and the New Side reaped all the fruits of the Great Awakening under Whitefield and his successors. Different views on subscription and discipline, and the arbitrary act of excision were the barriers to union, but these were removed; in 1758 the adopting act was re-established in its original breadth, the "Synod of New York and Philadelphia" was formed, and the reunion was signalized by the formation of the presbytery of Hanover in Virginia. Under John Witherspoon the college of New Jersey was the favoured school of the reunited church. The union was not perfect; the presbytery of Donegal was for three years in revolt against the synod; and in 1762 a second presbytery of Philadelphia was formed; but the strength of the synod increased rapidly and at the outbreak of the War of Independence it had 11 presbyteries and 132 ministers.
Presbyterianism had an independent development in the Carolinas, whither there was a considerable Scotch migration in 1684-1687. William Dunlop (c. 1650-1700) ministered to them until 1688, when he became principal of the university of Glasgow. At Charleston a mixed congregation of Scotch Presbyterians and English Puritans was organized in 1690. What is now Dorchester county, South Carolina, was settled in 1695 by members of a church established in Dorchester, Massachusetts. In 1710 there were five churches in the Carolinas; in 1722-1723 they formed the presbytery of James Island, which (after 1727) went through the same struggle as the synod of Philadelphia in reference to subscription; and in 1731 the parties separated into subscribers and non-subscribers.
From New England, as has been seen, Puritan settlers established Presbyterian churches (or churches which immediately became Presbyterian) in Long Island, on New Jersey, and in South Carolina; but the Puritans who remained in New England usually established Congregational churches. But there were exceptions: Irish Presbyterians from Ulster formed a church at Londonderry, New Hampshire, which, about 1729, grew into a presbytery; the Boston presbytery, organized in 1745, became in 1774 the synod of New England with three presbyteries and sixteen ministers; and there were two independent presbyteries, that of "the Eastward" organized at Boothbay, Maine, in 1771, and that of Grafton, in New Hampshire, founded by Eleazar Wheelock and other ministers interested in Dartmouth College.
The Presbyterians from the Scotch Established Church combined with the American Presbyterian Church, but the separating churches of Scotland organized independent bodies. The Reformed Presbyterian Church (Covenanters) sentdjohn Cuthbertson in 1751; he was joined in 1773 by Matthew Lin and Alexander Dobbin from the Reformed Presbytery of Ireland, and they organized in March 1774 the Reformed Presbytery of America. The Anti-Burgher Synod sent Alexander Gellatly and Andrew Arnot in 1752, and two years later they organized the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania; they were joined in 1757 by the Scotch Church in New York City, which had split off because of objections to the growing use of Watts's Psalms; they had grown to two presbyteries and thirteen ministers in 1776. The Burgher Synod in 1764 sent Thomas Clarke of Ballybay, Ireland, who settled at Salem, Washington county, New York, and in 1776 sent David Telfair, of Monteith, Scotland, who preached in Philadelphia; they united with the Associate Presbytery of Pennsylvania; in 1771 the Scotch Synod ordered the presbytery to annul its union with the Burghers, and although Dr Clarke of Salem remained in the Associate Presbytery, the Burgher ministers who immigrated later joined the Associate Reformed Church. In 1769-1774 there was a futile attempt to secure the union of the Associate Presbytery with the main American Church.
2. From the War of Independence to the Civil War.—During the War of Independence the Presbyterian churches suffered severely. Ministers and people with few exceptions—the most notable being the Scotch Highlanders who had settled in the valley of the Mohawk in New York and on Cape Fear river in North Carolina—sided with the patriot or Whig party: John Witherspoon was the only clergyman in the Continental Congress of 1776, and was otherwise a prominent leader; John Murray of the Presbytery of the Eastward was an eloquent leader in New England; and in the South the Scotch-Irish were the backbone of the American partisan forces, two of whose leaders, Daniel Morgan and Andrew Pickens, were Presbyterian elders.
At the close of the War the Presbyterian bodies began at once to reconstruct themselves. In 1782 the presbyteries of the Associate and Reformed churches united, forming the Associate and Reformed Synod of North America; but as there were a few dissenters in both bodies the older Associate and Reformed Presbyteries remained as separate units—the Associate Presbytery continued to exist under the same name until 1801, when it became the Associate Synod of North America; in 1818 it ceased to be subordinate to the Scotch General Synod. The Associate Reformed Synod added in 1794 a fourth presbytery, that of Londonderry, containing most of the New England churches, but in 1801 "disclaimed" this presbytery because it did not take a sufficiently strict view of the question of psalm-singing. The Reformed Presbytery of North America was reconstituted by two ministers from Ireland in 1798; it became a synod of three presbyteries in 1809 and a general synod in 1823; in the first decade of the century the presbytery required all members to free their slaves. The synod of New York and Philadelphia, which in 1781 had organized the presbytery of Redstone, the first of western Pennsylvania, in 1788 resolved itself into a General Assembly, which first met in Philadelphia in 1789, and after revising the chapters on Church and state, adopted the Westminster symbols as to their constitution, "as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures," and they made them unalterable without the consent of two-thirds of the presbyteries and the General Assembly. In 1801 a "plan of union" proposed by the General Association (Congregational) of Connecticut was accepted by the General Assembly, and the work of home missions in the western section of the country was prosecuted jointly. The result was mixed churches in western New York and the new states west of the Alleghany Mountains, which grew into presbyteries and synods having peculiar features midway between Presbyterianism and Congregationalism.
The general strictness of the church in its requirements for ministerial education occasioned it great loss in this period when the territory beyond the Appalachians was being settled so largely by Scotch-Irish and Presbyterians. The revivals in Kentucky brought about differences which resulted in the high-handed exclusion of the revivalists. These formed themselves into the presbytery of Cumberland, on the 4th of February 1810, which grew in three years into a synod of three presbyteries and became the "Cumberland Presbyterian Church." In 1813 they revised the Westminster Confession and excluded, as they claimed, fatalism and infant damnation. If they had appealed to the General Assembly they might have received justice, or possibly the separation might have been on a larger scale. In 1822, under the influence of John Mitchell Mason (1770-1829), the Associate Reformed Synod combined with the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, but the majority was too slender to make the union thorough. The greater part of the ministers decided to remain separate, and accordingly organized three independent synods—New York, Scioto and the Carolinas. In 1858 the associate synods of the north and west united with the Associate Synod as the United Presbyterian Church. In 1833 the Reformed Presbyterian Church divided into New Lights and Old Lights in a dispute as to the propriety of Covenanters exercising the rights of citizenship under the constitution of the United States.
A great and widespread revival marked the opening years of the century, resulting in marvellous increase of zeal and numbers. New measures were adopted, doctrines were adapted to the times, and ancient disputes were revived between the conservative and progressive forces. Theological seminaries had been organized: the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church at Princeton, N.J., founded in 1812 by the General Assembly; the Auburn Theological Seminary at Auburn, N.Y., founded in 1819 by the synod of Geneva, and afterwards associated with the New School; a school at Hampden Sidney, Virginia, founded by the synod of Virginia in 1824, named Union Theological Seminary in Virginia after 1826, supported after 1828 by the synods of Virginia and North Carolina, and in 1898 removed to Richmond, Va.; the Western Theological Seminary, founded at Allegheny (Pittsburg), Pa., in 1827 by the General Assembly; the Presbyterian Theological Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina, founded in 1828 by the synod of South Carolina; Lane Theological Seminary, founded independently in 1829 by the New School at Cincinnati, Ohio; and Union Theological Seminary, founded in 1836 by independent action of New School men, in New York City. Differences in doctrine as well as polity and discipline became more and more prominent. The doctrinal differences came to a head in the trials of George Duffield (1832), Lyman Beecher (1835) and Albert Barnes (1836) which, however, resulted in the acquittal of the accused, but which increased friction and ill feeling. The differences developed were chiefly between general atonement and atonement for the elect only and between mediate imputation and immediate imputation.
The agitation with reference to African slavery threw the bulk of the Southern Presbyterians on the Old Side, which was further strengthened by the accession of the Associate Reformed. The ancient differences between Old and New Side were revived, and once more it was urged that there should be (1) strict subscription, (2) exclusion of the Congregationalized churches, and strict Presbyterian polity and discipline, and (3) the condemnation and exclusion of the new divinity and the maintenance of scholastic orthodoxy. In 1834 a convention of the Old Side was held in Philadelphia, and the "Act and Testimony" was adopted charging doctrinal unsoundness and neglect of discipline upon the New Side, and urging that these should be excluded from the Church. The moderate men on both sides opposed this action and strove for peace or an amicable separation, but in vain. In 1837 the Old Side obtained the majority in the General Assembly for the second time only in seven years; they seized their opportunity and abrogated the "Plan of Union of 1801 with the Connecticut Congregationalists," cut off the synod of Western Reserve and then the synods of Utica, Geneva and Genesee, without a trial, and dissolved the third presbytery of Philadelphia without providing for the standing of its ministers. The New Side men met in convention at Auburn, N.Y., in August 1837, and adopted measures for resisting the wrong, but in the General Assembly of 1838 the moderator refused to recognize their commissioners. On an appeal to the assembly the moderator's decision was reversed, a new moderator was chosen, and the assembly adjourned to another place of meeting. The Old Side remained after the adjournment and organized themselves, claiming the historic succession. Having the moderator and clerks from the assembly of 1837, they retained the books and papers. Thus two General Assemblies were organized, the Old and the New School. An appeal was made to the civil courts, which decided (1839) in favour of the New School; but this decision was overruled and a new trial ordered. It was deemed best, however, to cease litigation and to leave matters as they were.
Several years of confusion followed. In 1840 we have the first safe basis for comparison of strength.
The "sides" remained separate throughout the remainder of this period. The North was especially agitated by the slavery question.In 1847 the synod of the Free Presbyterian Church was formed by the anti-slavery secession of the presbytery of Ripley, O. (New School), and a part of the presbytery of Mahoning, Pa., (Old School); this synod, then numbering five presbyteries with 43 ministers, joined the New School Assembly during the Civil War. In 1850 the New School Assembly declared slave-holding, unless excusable for some special reason, a cause for discipline; in 1853 it asked the Southern presbyteries to report what action they had taken to put themselves in accord with the resolution of 1850; In 1858, 6 synods, 21 presbyteries and about 15,000 communicants withdrew and organized the United Synod. Just before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 these churches numbered:—
|Old School||33||171||2656||3531||292,927 (1860)|
|New School||22||104||1523||1482||134,933 (1860)|
|United Synod||4||15||113||197||10,205 (1858)|
3. Since the beginning of the Civil War.—The Southern presbyteries of the Old School Assembly withdrew in 1861, and delegates from ten southern synods (47 presbyteries) met in Augusta, Georgia, in December, and organized as the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America, which included 700 ministers, 1000 churches and 75,000 communicants. Its strength was increased by the addition: in 1863 of the small Independent Presbyterian Church of South Carolina; in 1865 of the United Synod (New School), which at that time had 120 ministers, 190 churches, and 12,000 communicants; in 1867 of the presbytery of Patapsco; in 1869 of the synod of Kentucky; and in 1874 of the synod of Missouri. At the close of the Civil War this Southern Church adopted the name of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States.
In 1867 there was an unsuccessful attempt to combine all the Presbyterian bodies of the North. In 1869 the Old and New Schools in the North combined on the basis of the common standards; to commemorate the union a memorial fund was raised which amounted in 1871 to $7,607,492. Between 1870 and 1881 three presbyteries of the Reformed Presbyterian General Synod (New School) joined the northern General Assembly. In 1906 the greater part of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (then having 195,770 members) united with the northern General Assembly. Although the differences between the Old School and the New School were much less in 1869 than in 1837—during the separation the New School was conservative, the Old School liberal, in tendency—there were serious dissensions in the northern church after the union. The first of these was due to the adoption by certain teachers in theological seminaries of the methods and results of the "higher criticism," and two famous heresy cases followed. Charles Augustus Briggs, tried for heresy for his inaugural address in 1891 as professor of biblical theology at Union Seminary (in which he attacked the inerrancy of the Bible, held the composite character of the Hexateuch and of the Book of Isaiah and taught that sanctification is not complete at death), was acquitted by the presbytery of New York, but was declared guilty and was suspended from its ministry by the General Assembly ofy 1893. Henry Preserved Smith, professor of Hebrew and Old Testament exegesis in Lane Seminary, for a pamphlet published in 1891 denying the inerrancy but affirming the inspiration of the Scriptures, was suspended in 1892 by the presbytery of Cincinnati, and was unsuccessful in his appeal to the synod and to the General Assembly. Dr Briggs remained a member of the Union Seminary faculty but left the Presbyterian Church to enter the Protestant Episcopal. Dr Smith resigned his chair at Lane Seminary, and entered the Congregational ministry. In 1892-1893 there was an open break between the General Assembly and Union Seminary, which repudiated the agreement of 1870between the seminaries and the assembly; the assembly disclaimed responsibility for the Seminary's teachings and withheld financial aid from its students. In 1896 McCormick Theological Seminary (which in 1858 as New Albany Theological Seminary had come under the control of the assembly) and Auburn Seminary refused to make the changes desired by the General Assembly; a satisfactory arrangement with McCormick was made. Lane and Auburn remained practically independent.
But although the conservative party was successful in inducing successive general assemblies to lay repeatedly stronger stress on the verbal inerrancy of Holy Scripture and to make belief in such inerrancy a requisite of teachers in theological seminaries and of candidates for the ministry, there was in other matters an increasing liberal tendency. In 1902 the General Assembly adopted a Brief Statement of the Reformed Faith, not as a legal standard but as an interpretation of the confession; it repudiated the doctrine of infant damnation, insisted on the consistency of predestination with God's universal love, and incorporated new chapters on the Holy Spirit, the love of God, and missions. The Assembly of 1906 authorized (but did not make mandatory) the use of a book of common worship; the question of a liturgy had been opened in 1855 by C. W. Baird's Entaxia; in 1864 Charles W. Shields (1825-1904), who afterwards entered the Protestant Episcopal Church, republished and urged the adoption of the Book of Common Prayer as amended by the Westminster Divines in the royal commission of 1661; and Henry Van Dyke was prominent in the latter stage of the movement for a liturgy.
The northern General Assembly and the Cumberland Church, which united with it in 1906, are the only Presbyterian bodies in America that have done anything tangible for Christian union in the last fifty years: the southern Assembly is much more conservative than the northern—in 1866 it suspended James Woodrow (1828-1907), professor of natural science in connexion with revealed religion, for holding evolutionary views, and it declared that Adam's body was "directly fashioned by Almighty God, without any natural animal parentage of any kind, out of matter previously created out of nothing"; and in 1897 it ordered that women were not to speak in promiscuous meetings—and its attitude toward the negro, insisting in separate church organizations for blacks and whites, makes union with the northern bodies difficult; the United Presbyterian Church in North America in 1890 refused to join the union of Presbyterian and Reformed missions in India, and its opposition to instrumental music and to the use of any songs but the psalms of the Old Testament, although this is decreasing in strength, are bars to union; the synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America in 1888 refused to unite with the United Presbyterian Church because the latter did not object to the secular character of the constitution of the United States; and with the general synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church the synod could not unite in 1890 because the general synod allowed and the synod did not allow its members to "incorporate" themselves with the political system of the United States. A loose union, called the "Federal Council of the Reformed Churches in America," was formed in 1894 by the churches mentioned (excepting the Southern Assembly) and the Dutch and German Reformed churches.
More or less closely connected with the Northern Church are the theological seminaries at Princeton, Auburn, Pittsburg (formerly Allegheny—the Western Seminary), Cincinnati (Lane), New York (Union) and Chicago (McCormick), already named, and San Francisco Seminary (1871) since 1892 at San Anselmo, Cal., a theological seminary (1891) at Omaha, Nebraska, a German theological seminary (1869) at Bloomfield, New Jersey, the German Presbyterian Theological School of the North-west (1852) at Dubuque, Iowa, and the Presbyterian Theological Seminary of Kentucky, which is under the control and supervision of the northern and southern churches. Seminaries of the Southern Church are the Union Theological Seminary at Richmond, Virginia, and the Columbia Theological Seminary at Columbia, South Carolina, already mentioned, the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (1902) at Austin, Texas, the theological department in the Southwestern Presbyterian University at Clarksville, Tennessee, and, for negroes, Stillman Institute (1877), at Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The United Presbyterian Church has two seminaries, one at Xenia, Ohio, and one at Allegheny (Pittsburg). Of the Covenanter bodies the synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church has a theological seminary in Allegheny (Pittsburg), established in 1856, and the general synod in 1887 organized a college at Cedarville, Ohio. The Associate Reformed Synod of the South has the Erskine Theological Seminary (1837) in Due West, South Carolina.
The foreign missionary work of the General Assembly had been carried on after 1812 through the (Congregational) American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (organized in 1810) until the separation of 1837, when the Old School Assembly established its own board of foreign missions; the New School continued to work through the American board; after the union of 1869 the separate board was perpetuated and the American board transferred to it, with the contributions made to the American board by the New School churches, the missions in Africa (1833), in Syria (1822), and in Persia (1835). The Church now has, besides these missions, others in India (1834), Siam (1840), China (1846), Colombia (1856), Brazil (1859), Japan (1859), Laos (1867), Mexico (transferred in 1872 by the American and Foreign Christian Union), Chile (transferred in 1873 by the same Union; first established in 1845), Guatemala (1882), Korea (1884) and the Philippine Islands (1899). A board of home missions was organized in 1816; a board of education in 1819; a woman's board of foreign missions in 1869; a women's executive committee for home mission work (which takes particular interest in the work for the freedmen) in 1878; a board of publication in 1838 (after 1887 called the board of Publication and Sunday School Work); a board of aid for colleges (1883); a board of church erection in 1844; a board of work for freedmen; and a board of ministerial relief; after the union of 1869 the Board of Home Missions was removed from Philadelphia to New York City.
The Southern Church, unlike the Northern, is not working through "boards," but through executive committees, which were formerly more loosely organized, and which left to the presbyteries the more direct control of their activities, but which now differ little from the boards of the northern Church. It has: an executive committee on foreign missions (first definitely organized by the Assembly in 1877), which has missions in China (1867), Brazil (1869), Mexico (1874), Japan (1885), Congo Free State (1891), Korea (1896) and Cuba (1899); and executive committees of home missions (1865), of publication and sabbath school work, of ministerial education and relief, of schools and colleges and of colored evangelization (formed in 1891). Permanent committees on the "sabbath and family religion," the "Bible cause" and "evangelistic work" report to the General Assembly annually.
The United Presbyterian Church has a board of foreign missions (reorganized in 1859) with missions in Egypt (1853), now a Synod with four presbyteries (in 1909, 71 congregations, 70 ministers and 10,341 members), in the Punjab (1854), now a synod with four presbyteries (in 1909, 35 congregations, 51 ministers and 17,321 members), and in the Sudan (1901); and boards of home missions (reorganized, 1859), church extension (1859), publication (1859), education (1859), ministerial relief (1862), and missions to the freedmen (1863).
Presbyterians of different churches in the United States in 1906 numbered 1,830,555; of this total 322,542 were in Pennsylvania, where there were 248,335 members of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (the Northern Church), being more than one-fifth of its total membership; 56,587 members of the United Presbyterian Church of North America, being more than two-fifths of its total membership; 2709 members of the Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, three-tenths of its total membership; the entire membership of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States and Canada (440), 3150 members of the Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church, nearly one-fourth of its total membership; and 2065 members of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, general synod, about five-ninths of its total membership. The strength of the Church in Pennsylvania is largely due to the Scotch-Irish settlements in that state. Philadelphia is the home of the boards of publication and of Sunday schools of the Northern Church; and in Allegheny (Pittsburg) are the principal theological seminary of the United Presbyterian body and its publishing house. In New York state there were 199,923 Presbyterians, of whom 186,278 were members of the Northern Church and 10,115 of the United Presbyterian Church of North America. In Ohio there were 138,768 Presbyterians, 114,772 being of the Northern and 18,336 of the United Presbyterian Church. The other states with a large Presbyterian population were Illinois (115,602; 86,251 of the Northern Church; 17,208 of the Cumberland Church; 9555 of the United Presbyterian Church); New Jersey (79,912; 78,490 of the Northern Church); Tennessee (79,337; 42,464 being Cumberland Presbyterians, more than one-fifth of the total membership; 6640 of the Colored Cumberland Church, more than one-third of its membership; 21,390 of the Southern Church; and 6786 of the Northern Church); Missouri (71,599; 28,637 of the Cumberland Church; 25,991 of the Northern Church; 14,713 of the Southern Church); Texas (62,090; 31,598 of the Cumberland Church; 23,934 of the Southern Church; 4118 of the Northern Church; and 2091 of the Colored Cumberland Church); Iowa (60,081; 48,326 of the Northern Church; 8890 of the United Presbyterian Church); and North Carolina (55,837; 41,322 of the Southern and 10,696 of the Northern Church). The Northern Church had a total membership of 1,179,566. The Southern Church had a total membership of 266,345. The Cumberland Presbyterian Church had (in 1906, when it became a part of the Northern Church) 195,770 members. The Colored Cumberland Church had a membership of 18,066. The United Presbyterian Church of North America had a total membership of 130,342. The Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Church had a total membership of 13,280. The Associate Reformed Synod of the South had a membership of 13,201. The Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America had in 1906 a membership of 9122. The "Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America, General Synod," had a membership of 3620. The Associate Presbyterian Church, or Associated Synod of North America had a membership of 786. The Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States and Canada had a membership in the United States of 440.
On American Presbyterianism, see Charles Hodge, Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, 1706–1788 (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1839–1840); Records of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America from 1706 to 1788 (ibid., 1841); Richard Webster, History of the Presbyterian Church in America (ibid., 1858); E. H. Gillett, History of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (2nd ed., ibid., 1873); C. A. Briggs, American Presbyterianism (New York, 1885). There is a good bibliography on pp. xi-xxxi of R. E. Thompson's History of the Presbyterian Churches in the United States (ibid., 1895), vol. vi. of the American Church History Series; in the same series in vol. xi. are sketches of "The United Presbyterians," by J. B. Scouller, "The Cumberland Presbyterians," by R. N. Foster, and "The Southern Presbyterians," by Thomas C. Johnson. Other works on the separate churches are: E. B. Crisman, Origin and Doctrines of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church (St Louis, 1877) and W. M. Glasgow, History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in America. (Baltimore, 1888).
- Phil. i. 1.
- Acts vi. 2-6.
- 1 Tim. v. 17; Titus i. 9.
- Acts vi. 1, 2.
- Acts xi. 29, xv. 2, 4, 6, xvi. 4.
- Acts xx. 17.
- Acts xiv. 23.
- Titus i. 5.
- 1 Peter v. 1.
- See Bishop Lightfoot's exhaustive essay in his volume on the Epistle to the Philippians.
- Acts i. 15-26.
- Acts vi. 2-6.
- Acts xiv. 23.
- 1 Timothy iv. 14.
- Acts xv. 6-20.
- Acts xv. 2.
- Acts xvi. 4.
- Matt. xx. 25, 26; Luke xxii. 25, 26.
- Proceedings of Seventh General Council of the Alliance of Reformed Churches holding the Presbyterian System (Washington, 1899).
- Hill's View of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland, pp. 37, 38.
- 1 Tim. iv. 15, v. 17; Col. iv. 17.
- Report of Proceedings, Third General Council of the Alliance of Reformed Churches, &c. (1884), pp. 373 seq. and App. p. 131.
- Exodus iii. 16; iv. 29.
- St Luke iv. 16 seq.
- Acts ix. 2.
- See Lightfoot's Essay in Commentary on the Epistle to the Philippians.
- Knox, Winran, Spotswood and Douglas—all of them John—were the other commissioners.
- 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 100th and 124th Psalms in that old book.
- Lindsay, Hist. of the Reform. ii. 90.
- Hist. of the Reform. ii. 31.
- Ibid. ii. 158.
- Lindsay, Hist. of the Reform. ii. 166.
- Ibid. ii. 169.
- Ibid. ii. 222, 223.
- Drysdale, History of the Presbyterians in England, p. 625.
- The separation of the southern part of the Associate Reformed Church from the northern in 1821, and the establishment of the Associate Reformed Synod of the South had not been due to slavery, but was for convenience in administration.
- This agreement, proposed to the General Assembly in 1870 by the directors of Princeton and of Union, gave the Assembly a veto on the election and removal of professors.