A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Congregationalists
CONGREGATIONALISTS, a denomination of protestants, who maintain that each particular church has authority from Christ for exercising government, and enjoying all the ordinances of worship within itself.
The platform of church discipline which was drawn up in 1648, and agreed upon by the elders and messengers of the churches, assembled in the synod at Cambridge, in New England, defines a congregational church to be, by the institution of Christ, a part of the militant visible church, consisting of a company of saints by calling, united in one body by a holy covenant, for the public worship of God, and the mutual edification of one another in the fellowship of the Lord Jesus.
According to this platform, such as are admitted members of churches ought to be first examined: for the eunuch of Ethiopia, before his admission, was examined by Philip, whether he did believe in Jesus Christ with all his heart.
The qualifications necessary to be found in all church members, are repentance from sin, and faith in Jesus Christ. This denomination differed originally from the Independents in this respect, that they invited councils, which are to advice only; but the Independent formerly decided all difficulties within themselves. They are now, however, considered as one denomination. See Independents
- Platform of Church Discipline, 1848. Neal's New England, vol. ii. p. 314.