BLTC Press Titles


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Tao Te Ching

Lao Tzu, James Legge (trans.)


Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner


Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll


The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely


History of the rise, progress, genius, and character of American Presbyterianism

by William Hill

Excerpt:

Another term of reproach was generally used in England, as applicable to those who opposed any of the rites and ceremonies which were leftin the Established Church of England by Henry VIII, in his partial reformation. During the reign of that arbitrary monarch, whatever opposition was felt to his mongrel system of religion, it had to be smothered in silence for fear of his vindictive resentment. But, during the reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth, a general desire was expressed to carry on the Reformation more in conformity with that which existed in other Protestant nations. Certain clerical vestments borrowed from Popery, and certain rites and usages which had been prostituted to superstitious purposes, .were objected to by those who wished to see the Church assume more of its primitive purity; and the name of Puritan was fallen upon, as a sneering term of reproach, and applied to those scrupulous persons by their enemies. And, in England, the name of Puritan was applied to every one who adhered to the Calvinistic system of "doctrines which characterized the creed and articles of that church at first, and who opposed her unscriptural rites and ceremonies. They were sometimes called Doctrinal Puritans, or Ceremonial Puritans, as they wished the application to be made.

Very little objection, at first, was made in England to the form of government then in use—and if these Puritans could have been gratified in other matters, the most of them would have remained very peacefully in the Established Church. But the high church party, with Queen Elizabeth as its head, began to grasp at power, and assert high prerogative rights, to such an extent that the ranks of the Puritans were rapidly filled up, and they soon became as much opposed to ecclesiastical domination and prelatical usurpation as their neighbors in Scotland. But it was not, primarily or mainly, Prelacy they were opposed to, so much as to its overgrown power and despotic assumptions. They could easily have been brought to submit to, and even approve of, a modified form of Episcopacy, such as •was proposed by Archbishop Usher. But when this was denied them, they were called Puritans, or Presbyterians, as interchangeble terms.

Hence the loose and indiscriminate use which is so often made of these terms, which have bewildered and led astray so many persons, and which afford a pretext for those, who are hard run for better arguments, to resort to them, to answer a purpose. A quotation from Dr. Miller* will set this matter in a clear light: "Although the title of Presbyterian is, in popular language, chiefly confined to the churches in Great Britain and Ireland, and those who descended from them who hold the doctrine of ministerial parity, and maintain a government by Presbyteries, yet the term, as every well-informed reader knows, is much more extensive in its application. The Reformed Churches of Holland, France, Germany, and Geneva, were all as really Presbyterian as that of Scotland. That is, they all unanimously and decisively maintained the parity of Ministers, and the Scriptural warrant of Ruling Elders, and the government of larger districts of the Church by Presbyteries and Synods—in other words, by a number of Ministers and Ruling Elders, sitting judicially, and deciding authoritatively. on the general concerns of the Church in a kingdom or province. Nay, even the Lutheran Churches in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, at the era of the Reformation, adopted the essential principles of the Presbyterian government." [This last is a favorite expression of Professor Hodge, when he wishes to answer a purpose by it.] "They all maintained, and do to the present day maintain, the ordaining power of Presbyteries; and many of them have Ruling Elders in their churches. Luther himself, though only a Presbyter, ordained a number of Ministers, and declared ordination by Presbyters to be the Apostolic mode. In short, the whole Protestant world, excepting the Church of England and those who descended from her, at the period of the Reformation, either adopted Presbyterian principles in all their extent, or recognized and incorporated the essential parts of that system in their respective constitutions." A quotation or two shall now be given from Professor Hodge's late publication. Page 12. "With regard to church order, it is contended that our church adopted, from the beginning, aad has ever continued to exercise, that form of government which had been previously adopted in Scotland, Ireland, Holland, and by the Protestants of France. This system was every where, in all its distinctive and essential features, the same." Again: page 26. "Of the Presbyterians there appear to be two divisions; the one strenuous for the whole system; the'other willing to admit Archbishop Usher's plan, either from preference or as a compromise." Let these statements now be analyzed, and see how they will hang together, and where they will lead.

Dr. Miller asserts that "the Lutheran Churches of Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, at the Reformation, all adopted the essential principles of Presbyterian government." What is it that makes one really a Presbyterian? "Decidedly to maintain the parity of Ministers, and the Scriptural warrant of Ruling Elders, and the government of larger districts of the Church by Presbyteries and Synods." So far from Dr. Miller. We shall now hear Professor Hodge. The system of Presbyterianism, which, he says, is every where the same, "requires the government of individual congregations to be vested in the Pastor and Elders, and not in the brotherhood. It requires the association of several particular churches, under one Presbytery, composed of Ministers and Elders. It provides for provincial and national Synods, composed of delegates from the lower courts and recognized as belonging to Synods, the authority of review and control, and the right to set down rules for the government of the Church."

Ministerial parity, a warrant for Ruling Elders, and the government of the Church by Presbyteries and Synods, form the essence of Presbyterianism. Do Germany, Sweden, and Denmark govern their churches by Presbyteries and Synods? No! How then do they possess the essential principles of Presbyterian government? "They maintain the ordaining power of Presbyters, and many of them have Ruling Elders." Diocesan Bishops never ordain without the assistance of Presbyters. Are they, therefore, Presbyterians? And if some have Ruling Elders, while others have none, will that impart to the rest the essential properties of Presbyterianism? This is certainly very loose reasoning. Can Professor Hodge show us any Puritans who admitted that congregations ought to be governed by Pastors and Elders, without the brotherhood? Yet this is one of his essential features of Presbyterianism. Did the Cambridge Platform,. in which he said all the essential elements of Presbyterianism predominated, contain this principle? Did the Saybrook Platform, which, he said, even went beyond Presbyterianism, admit any such principle? It is no wonder that this writer can find the essential elements of Presbyte' rianism in so many nations, and among so many people, upon such loose principles of reasoning as these.

Professor Hodge admits that there are two kinds of Presbyterians—one strenuous for their whole system, the other willing to admit Archbishop Usher's plan. Did Archbishop Usher's plan contain the whole of the Scotch system of Presbyterianism or not? If it did, then there was but one kind of Presbyterians—if it did not, then there was a class of Presbyterians who did not admit all the essentials of the Scotch system. •

Which of these systems is it that our Professor contends for, as being adopted by the Mother Church, and always practised upon, from the beginning? Was it not the strict Scotch system? And was it not this


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