Friday, 31 January 2014

A Catechism on the Government and Discipline of the Presbyterian Church (1849)  Continued...

NOTE: I have changed the Bible quotations to ESV throughout and noted where this differs substantially from the KJV. I have also adopted British spelling rather than the American English of the original

Q. 1. What is the nature and extent of that authority which Christ has given to the rulers of the Church?

A. It is merely ministerial and subordinate.
“Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.”  
2 Cor. 1: 24

Q. 2. What is meant by ministerial authority?

A. It is authority, as ministers or servants of Christ, to proclaim, apply, and execute his laws for promoting the order and spiritual edification of the Church.

Q. 3. What is meant by subordinate authority?

A. It is the subjection of the inferior to the superior Courts of the Lord’s house—as of Session to Presbytery, and of Presbytery to Synod, Synod to General Assembly and of all to Christ.

Q. 4. How is this rule or authority exercised?

A. By the Presbyters or Elders assembled in Session, Presbytery, Synod, or General Assembly.
“The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.”  Acts 15:6.

Q. 5. What is a Church Session?

A. It is the Minister (who teaches and rules) along with the Ruling Elders of any particular congregation met together as a Church Court. The Minister acts as Moderator or President; and the Court thus formed may be called a Congregational Presbytery. This court, with the superior judicatories, is founded on the model of the more ancient synagogue courts, for purposes of government and discipline.

 Moreover, look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs.”  
Exodus 18:21

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone… But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.  If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.”
Matt. 18:15—17. See also 1 Cor. 5:4, 13.

Q. 6. Who are subject to the authority of Session?

A. All the members of the church of which it has the oversight.

Q. 7. What is the duty of each church or congregation towards the Session?

A. To respect and uphold that authority which is given it by Christ; to render a cheerful obedience to its decisions in the Lord ; and cordially co-operate in the plans of usefulness which it recommends.

 “We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.”    1 Thess. 5:12, 13.

Q. 8. Of what does a Presbytery consist?

A. Of the Ministers of a convenient district, with a Ruling Elder from each congregation.

Q. 9. What is the extent of its jurisdiction?

A. It extends to its own members, and to the several Sessions and congregations belonging to it. It is a Court of Appeal from Sessions, and has the general oversight of the congregations under its care. An appeal lies from its decision to the Synod.

Q. 10. Of what does a Synod consist?

A. It consists of the Ministers of three or more Presbyteries with a Ruling Elder to represent each Session. In some branches of the Presbyterian church the Synod is the supreme court of jurisdiction ; but in other, more numerous and extended churches, such as those of Scotland, of Ireland, and of the United States, there is also a General Assembly, composed of a specific number of Ministers and Ruling Elders, appointed by the Presbyteries.

(NOTE:  Many Presbyterian denominations no longer have Synods, but move directly from the Presbytery to the General Assembly.)

Q. 11. Does the New Testament furnish any model of Presbyterian government by such Church Courts?

A. It does, in the 15th chapter of Acts.

Q. 12. How does the 15th chapter of Acts establish that form of church government?

A. The facts therein recorded for our example, furnish its outline or general principles.

·       In the church at Antioch, a question was disputed, affecting the faith and practice of all the churches of Christ. Ver. 1, 2.

·       It was referred for settlement, to an assembly to be convened at Jerusalem. Ver. 2.

·       The assembly consisted of the rulers of the church, but was open to the people. Ver. 6, 12.

·       It acted in a deliberative capacity. Ver. 7, 12, 13.

·       It decided, not by direct inspiration, but by discussion and consideration, under the ordinary guidance of the Holy Ghost. Ver. 7, 22, 28.

·       One member of the assembly proposed a resolution which was unanimously adopted as its decision on the question. Ver. 19, 22.

·       The decree thus enacted, was authoritative, and extended to all the churches. Ver. 28; and 16:4.

These principles are applied in government, with all the necessary and expedient details, to particular congregations, by the Session; to the churches of a convenient district, by the Presbytery ; and to the whole Church, by Synod, or General Assembly.

“But all things should be done decently and in order.” 1 Cor. 14:40
Helps for Worship

One of the chief concerns for Reformed churches in our age is the maintenance, or indeed the reintroduction, of biblical worship.  Do our people understand our worship and why we do what we do?
The OPC has produced an excellent simple introduction to the elements of worship. Written by William Shisko it covers in 39 pages and 33 short articles everything we do in worship and provides biblical underpinning for our practices.
Not only is it available at a printed booklet, ($1.50), but it can be downloaded in a printer friendly version from the OPC website, both as PDF and by coping and pasting from the webpage as a Word document.
Each chapter fills the inside of a fold-over A4 bulletin. In our congregation we have been running it as a series in the inside of our weekly bulletin.  As a Free Church of Scotland congregation we have done some slight editing to reflect our own particular practices.  I also edited the discussion questions, more by addition than deletion.
The booklet is available for purchase at: 

The downloadable version in epub, mobi (for Kindle) and doc formats is found at:

I append an example of a chapter I formatted and edited for the bulletin.  If anyone is interested I could make the individual formatted for Scottish use version available.
Here is an example from our bulletin. As formatted if fits in an A4 landscape page:

"... Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs." (Eph. 5:19)
Some students of liturgics (that is, the study of the proper manner of worship) question whether responsive readings are to be used in worship. What is the biblical basis for them? What is their purpose?
Our pattern is to use responsive (or unison) readings (usually from the book of Psalms) as we prepare ourselves for the prayer of confession of sin, which follows. The biblical basis for this practice is that the Scriptures themselves tell us that the congregation should use appropriate words in its ministry to one another (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). We usually think of our congregational singing in this regard, but the Scriptures command us to "speak" to one another as well as to sing to one another and to the Lord.
In the Old Testament, there is an example of this kind of congregational speaking in Deuteronomy 27. The tribes of Israel were divided between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. The blessings and the curses of the covenant were read aloud, and the people responded with their "Amen!" In doing so, they committed themselves to the very things God had told them in his covenant word. We do something similar as we take God's words on our lips and recommit ourselves to them in corporate worship.
In a real sense, this time of congregational speaking is an extension of our corporate confession of faith. Because the Psalms have their ultimate fulfilment in the person and work of Christ (Luke 24:44), we are continuing our confession of him. We are also reminding one another of the multifaceted truths in a believer's experience (the Psalms are given, in part, for that purpose). Those very reminders should make us desire to come before God in repentance and confession.
What a privilege it is to take the Word of God on our own lips as we worship the God who is to be worshiped according to that Word!
For Reflection
  1. How does the responsive reading when used reflect your own experience, and how does it call you to confess your sins?
  2. “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!”  Do we heartily respond with the Amen at close of prayers and worship?
© 2008 The Committee on Christian Education  of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church

Monday, 27 January 2014

Reading of the Law

The liturgies of the Reformed church regularly included the reading of the ten commandments.  This could be placed before the prayer of confession, to awaken a true sense of sin, or after this prayer, to give us a guide to Christian conduct in response to God's grace experienced in the cleansing of sin.  The Scottish reformed liturgy of Knox placed the reading of the Law before the prayer of confession of sin and our seeking for forgiveness through Christ's sacrifice for our sin.

In the past, while serving in the OPC, we used various forms for the reading of the Law.  Borrowing from and adapting the liturgy of the CRC we had a set of readings of the whole Law.  One had responses from the Psalms, another from the Words of Christ, and yet another from the NT Epistles.  We used these "whole Law" readings every second week.  In between these weeks we worked our way through individual commandments, using responsive readings adapted from the Shorter & Larger Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism.  So the pattern would be: week 1, whole Law; week 2, first commandment; week 3, whole Law; week 4, second commandment, etc.

Using this pattern we were regularly exposed to the whole Law, and saw that it was an essential part of OT piety, the righteousness of Christ, and NT piety.  We also faced the searching exposition of individual commandments through the traditional Reformed catechisms. I will, as time permits, put these readings online.

On a recent Sunday in our own congregation of the Free Church of Scotland we used a responsive reading adapted from the Anglican Church in Nigeria.  This had a different format.  Each commandment was supplemented by other biblical verses and read by the preacher.  The responses asked God to have mercy on us, (we have broken these commandments) and to enable us to obey each commandment and gratitude for his grace in salvation.

The Ten Commandments

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: If you love me, Keep my commandments; (Jn. 14:15 ). Happy are those who hear the word of God and keep it (Lk. 11:28 ).  Hear then these commandments which God has given to His people, and take them to heart.
I am the Lord your God; you shall have no other gods but me (Ex. 20:2, 3 ). You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength (Deut. 6.4,5 ; Mt. 22:37 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not make for yourself any idol (Ex 20:4 ).  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister : You shall not dishonour the name of the Lord your God (Exod. 20:7 ). You shall worship Him with awe and reverence (Heb. 12:28 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: Remember the Lord’s day and keep it holy (Ex. 20:8 ). Christ is risen from the dead (1 Cor. 15:20 ): set your minds on things that are above not on things that are on earth (Col. 3:2 )
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: Honour your father and mother (Ex. 20:12).  Live as servants of God; honour all people; love the brotherhood (1 Pet. 2:16b, 17a ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not commit murder (Ex. 20:13 ). Be reconciled to your neighbour (Rom. 12:10a ), overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not commit adultery (Ex. 20:14 ). Know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not steal (Exod. 20:15 ). Be honest in all that you do and care for those in need (Deut. 15:11 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not be a false witness (Exod. 20:16 ). Let everyone speak the truth, (Zech. 8:16; Eph. 4:25 ).
All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and incline our hearts to keep this law.

Minister: You shall not covet anything which belongs to your neighbour (Exod 20:17 ). Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Love your neighbour as yourself (Lk. 10:27b ), for love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom. 13:10b ).

All:   Lord, have mercy upon us, and write all these Your laws in our hearts, we pray You.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

A Catechism on the Government and Discipline of the Presbyterian Church (1849)  Continued...

NOTE: I have changed the Bible quotations to ESV throughout and noted where this differs substantially from the KJV. I have also adopted British spelling rather than the American English of the original

At this point in his catechism the author moves from giving the full text of Scripture to merely citing the reference.


Q.1.  Had the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ any successors in their office?

Answer. They had : not however as apostles, for none could be an apostle except such as had seen the Lord,—but as ministers, in preaching the word and administering the Sacraments, and taking the oversight. 2 Tim. 3:2, Acts. 14:23

Q. 2. As distinct from Deacons, what are these spiritual office-bearers called?

A. They are sometimes called Bishops, that is, overseers of the flock — sometimes Presbyters, which means elders. They are elders by station, and overseers by its duties, but they are of one order — not two. Acts 29:17—28,Titus 1:5—7

Q. 3. How were they ordained or set apart to their office?

A. By the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. 1 Tim. 4: 14 Acts 13: 1

Q. 4. What is the practice of those Churches which unscripturally assert that bishops and presbyters are two separate orders?

A. Their practice is to set apart one class of men by what they call consecration, and another by simple ordination.

Q. 5. Is there any rule or example in the New Testament for these two separate modes of setting apart ministers to their office?

A. There is none.

Q. 6. Is it not of importance that there should be a regular succession of scripturally appointed ministers?

A. Yes ; as a matter of order, it is seemly in the Church of Christ, but not essential to the salvation of souls.

Q. 7. Why is it not essential?

A. Because a broken succession can never frustrate the efficacy of the word of God, and an unbroken succession can never sanctify “the doctrines of devils.”

Q. 8. Who are they that rest all efficacy and salvation on what they call Apostolical Succession—that is, a derivation of their ministerial office through prelate-bishops from the lands of the apostles?

A. The Popish Church, and a large party in the prelatic Churches of England, of Ireland, and in Scotland and America.

Q. 9. Seeing these impute so much to it, can they prove from history that such a thing as unbroken succession exists among them?

A. Their assumption requires this at their hand ; but though they affect to do this, yet they cannot.

Their pretended catalogues are spurious or defective : for, 1st, There is no good evidence that the apostle Peter, from whom they pretend to derive their succession, was bishop of Rome, or that he ever visited that city ; 2d, There is no good evidence as to who were the chief pastors of the church there for the first two or three generations ; and, 3d, There is the clearest evidence which history can afford, that, in subsequent times, the succession was broken in numerous instances, and in innumerable ways. That it is “unbroken” is a popish fable.

Q. 10. Is not such a claim still farther invalidated on protestant grounds?

A. Most certainly it is; for if, as Protestants maintain, the Popish Church has become an apostate church, its office-bearers have plainly lost their Master’s commission, and they cannot impart it to others : or if they can impart it, we must also admit that they can recall it. Now, all Protestant bishops have been repeatedly excommunicated and deposed by the Romish Church ; how then can they claim succession from it? Therefore, if Protestant clergy teach their people that all legitimate authority, necessarily and exclusively accompanies such “succession,” the people are, on this principle, clearly bound to leave them, and return to the authority of Rome, which these clergy, on the one hand, foolishly acknowledge, and, on the other hand, inconsistently disobey.

Q. 11. Is this notion of unbroken succession objected to by us, because we are unable to advance any similar claim?
A. No: but because we regard it as idle and unscriptural. The apostle, when groundless pretensions were to be met, could say, “But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I.” (2 Cor 11:21, 22).  After the same manner, we are allowed to say, if any protestant communions may claim such a succession, the Presbyterian Church may.

Q. 12. How so?

A. Seeing that at the Reformation, her ministers were ordained by Popish Bishops, and seeing that all her ministers are themselves bishops, as before shown ; the likelihood that their succession would be afterwards broken, is less than it is in a church where only one minister, say in five hundred, is acknowledged to be a bishop, with power of transmitting it. In times of confusion it might be lost among Prelate-Bishops, and yet preserved among Presbyter or Parochial Bishops.

Q. 13. But are we to rest or to glory in this?

A. No, certainly : we are to look for proofs that our ministers are sent of God, in other things than in this, which is at best unprofitable and vain.

Q. 14. What evils arise from the assertion, by Protestant clergy, that “unbroken succession” is necessary to salvation, and from their assumption of the claim?

A. Great evils are apt to arise. It goes to unchurch themselves ; because when what they assume and pronounce to be necessary to constitute a church, is historically disproved, they by consequence pronounce themselves excluded from the ministry, and their people from salvation.

It tends to exalt the authority of man above that of God ; tradition above scripture ; points that are indifferent above truths that are essential. It fosters pride among the clergy, and exasperates differences among Protestants. It strengthens Popery, because it concedes one of its most arrogant demands ; and it strengthens infidelity, because, when ministers of the gospel maintain dogmas, which, on being slightly sifted, are found to be so foolish and fictitious as this, they impair their own credit in proclaiming to men facts and doctrines which are founded in truth and necessary to salvation.


Friday, 3 January 2014

Framing the Psalms  Psalm 2         

Psalm 2  John Cumming

In this Psalm, from verses 1 to 4, are set forth the united efforts
of Jew and Gentile, seconded by regal power, to crush the kingdom of Christ ; and from verses 4 to 6, the utter helplessness and folly of such impious conspiracies. God the Father, in verse 6, declares his having installed Christ the prince of the kings of the earth; and, in verse 7, Christ makes known the words of the Father in raising him from the dead, Acts xiii. 33. In verse 8, the extent and efficacy of the intercession of Jesus are stated ; and, in the remaining part of the Psalm, kings and magistrates are exhorted to the observance of the duty that devolves on them as Christian rulers viz., to protect, support, and patronize the church of Christ, and to use every lawful expedient to glorify God, and to promote the salvation of sinners.

Let us sing the Psalm rejoicing that the gospel will assuredly triumph over the malice and the opposition of sinners, and thankful that our kings have read and endeavoured to obey the solemn warning - seeing Christianity is established and countenanced by " the powers that be ; " and, at the same time, let us pray that all the kings of the earth may become " nursing fathers " to the church, and that in our hearts and lives, individually, we may feel the savour and the power of the truth as it is in Christ.

Psalm 2  John Brown

Perhaps this psalm relates partly to David's instalment on his throne, and the victories over his enemies which attended it. Compare Psalm 18; 2 Samuel 3, 5, 8, 10, 18, 20. But the whole of it respects Jesus our Redeemer. Behold, (1.) The violent and harmonious, but unsuccessful opposition, which Jews and Gentiles of all ranks make to the person and redemption work of the great God my Saviour. Behold what ruin and woe they draw upon themselves by their attempts! ver. 1-5, 9. (2.) Behold how, notwithstanding all their raging malice and furious opposition, Jehovah installs our Redeemer King in his church, and infallibly fixes him on his throne; avows him his only begotten Son, and gives unto him the Gentiles for his people! ver. 6-8. (3.) Behold Jehovah's demand of serious consideration and fear of, joy in, and trust, obedience and love to his exalted Son, ver. 9-12.

While I sing, let me remark the horrid nature of sin; let me with broken heart, bewail my neglect of, and opposition to Jesus Christ. Let me with wonder bless his name, that I have not already perished in mine iniquity. Let me with earnestness accept that once debased Redeemer, as my Saviour, my sovereign, my proprietor, my God, my all. Let me learn to know him, rejoice in him, and with holy awe, commit my whole salvation, and the salvation of my country, nay, of all the ends of the earth to him.

Psalm 2  William Horne ( 18th century High Anglican)

ARGUMENT. — David, seated upon the throne of Israel, notwithstanding the opposition made against him, and now about to carry his victorious arms amongst the neighbouring heathen nations, may be supposed to have penned this, as a kind of inauguration Psalm. But that "a greater than David is here," appears not only from the strength of the expressions, which are more properly applicable to Messiah, than to David himself ; but also from the citations made in the New Testament; the appointment of the Psalm by the church to be read on Easter-day ; and the confessions of the Jewish rabbis.

It treats therefore, 1 — 3. Of the opposition raised, both by Jew and Gentile, against the kingdom of Jesus Christ ; 4 — 6. Of his victory, and the confusion of his enemies ; 7 — 9. After his resurrection, he preaches the Gospel ; and, 10 — 12. Calls the kings of the earth to accept it ; denouncing vengeance against those who shall not do so, and pronouncing a blessing on those who shall. 

A Catechism on the Government and Discipline of the Presbyterian Church (1849)

NOTE: I have changed the Bible quotations to ESV throughout and noted where this differs substantially from the KJV. I have also adopted British spelling rather than the American English of the original.

The original can be found at the Internet Archive and Open Library, which will even send a copy to your Kindle.

A Catechism on the Government and Discipline of the Presbyterian Church (1849)
“Make known to them the design of the temple, its arrangement, its exits and its entrances, that is, its whole design; and make known to them as well all its statutes and its whole design and all its laws, and write it down in their sight, so that they may observe all its laws and all its statutes and carry them out.” (ESV)



The Compilers of this Catechism do not publish it in an unkind spirit towards Christians of other denominations, nor with the view of provoking controversy, but for the following reasons : —

1. In these days of conflicting opinions they deem it a matter of essential importance to the Presbyterian Church, that her members, and especially the rising generation, be thoroughly instructed in their peculiar and distinguishing principles.

2. They regard as unscriptural, and therefore erroneous the opinions which many are disposed to advocate — that no particular form of Church government and discipline is of Divine institution, and that Churches may adopt whatever form seems to them most expedient.

3. They believe that the glory of Christ, the extension of his kingdom, and the salvation of souls, are infinitely connected with the faithful administration of his ordinances and laws, according to the form of government which he has instituted in his word.

4. And that they are persuaded is the Presbyterian form.


Question 1. What is meant by the Church of Christ?

Answer. Either the whole body of his redeemed people, or the whole body of professing Christians on earth, and their children.

“Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might present the church to himself in splendour.”  Eph 5:25, 27

“For the promise is for you and for your children .  And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:29, 47

Q. 2. How is the Church, in this general sense, usually distinguished?

A. Into the invisible and the visible Church : the former, comprising the whole body of God's saints in heaven and on earth :

“The assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven.”  Heb 12:23

and the latter, the whole body of those who make an open profession of the truth as it is in Jesus.

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write - yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my name - you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam - which I hate”  Rev 2: 12-15 (Note alternative reading “which I hate.”)

Q. 3. Is the Greek word (ecclesia) translated Church in the Scriptures, confined to these two meanings ?

A. No. It is used in various senses. It signifies, —

(1.) Any general assembly, or congregation of people.

“For the assembly (ecclesia) was in confusion.”  Acts 19:32

(2.) An assembled council, either of civil judges,

But if you seek anything further, it shall be settled in the regular assembly. “ (ecclesia)  Acts 19:39

Or of ecclesiastical rulers.

“If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church.”  (ecclesia) Matt 18:17

The Church consists of rulers and ruled, Heb. 13: 17. And according to the order of all well-regulated societies, complaints are laid before the rulers. It was so in the synagogues of the Jewish Church ; and, therefore, as spoken by our Lord, and understood by hisdisciples, the word Church in this verse will mean the rulers.

(3.) Any particular congregation of Christians.

“And the church in her house.” Col 4:15

 (4.) Several congregations or churches considered as one body under the same general judicature.

“To the church of God that is in Corinth” 1 Cor 1:2; compared with 14: 34, the women should keep silent in the churches”

Also, the Church which was at Jerusalem, Acts 8: 1, compared with 21:20, how many thousands, (or, as in the original myriads.) A myriad is ten thousand. Many myriads must have made many congregations in Jerusalem, — all called the Church, under the jurisdiction of the apostles and elders,  Acts 15:6, and 16:4.

Q. 4. Is it a matter of indifference to what Church we belong?

A. No. It is our duty to join and adhere to that Church which is most agreeable to the Holy Scriptures in its doctrines, constitutions, forms, and discipline.

“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” 1 John 4:1

“But test everything; hold fast what is good.” 1 Thess 5:21

Q. 5. Has the Christian Church, as a visible society, a form of government peculiar to itself?

A. Yes. It is a kingdom having laws enjoined by Christ, and its members consist of the rulers and the ruled.

“My kingdom is not of this world” John 18:36

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls.” Heb 13:17

Q. 6. Where do we find the ordinances and laws by which it is governed?

A. In the word of God alone.

“To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.” Is 8:20 (KJV , “Because they have no light in them”)

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” Rev 22:18

Q. 7. What is the form of Church government which is founded on and most agreeable to the word of God?

A. That which is called the Presbyterian form. It is so called from the word Presbyter, signifying Elder, which is the usual scriptural name for the rulers of the Church.

Q. 8. What are the general and leading principles of this form of Church government?

A. The supreme Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ; the official equality of its Ministers ; the distinct office of Ruling Elder ; with the ministerial authority, and judicial subordination of Church

Q. 9. What is meant by the supreme Headship of Christ?

A. That He, and He alone, is the King and Head of the Church, and that no other person or persons have any authority to decree rites and ceremonies, or institute offices in the Church.

“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” Ps 2:6

“Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:3

“Even as Christ is the head of the church” Eph 5:23

 “Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matt 28:20

Q. 10. How many kinds of office-bearers did Christ appoint in his Church?

A. Two kinds — extraordinary and ordinary officers.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.”  Eph 4:11; or “the shepherd-teachers”

Q. 11. What were the extraordinary?

A. Persons endowed with supernatural gifts, and extraordinary authority; as apostles, evangelists, prophets.

Q. 12. For what purpose were they appointed?

A. To make known the will of Christ, settle the constitution of the Church agreeably thereto, and commit the administration of it to ordinary and permanent officers.

“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you.”
Titus 1:5

“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Tim 2:2

Q. 13. Had they any successors as extra-ordinary officers?

A. No. We do not read of any having been appointed or ordained to succeed them in their higher office as apostles, evangelists, or prophets.

“And when they had appointed elders for them in every church.” Acts 14:23

Q. 14. What are the ordinary Church-officers appointed by Christ?

A. Presbyters or elders, (called also bishops or overseers), and deacons.

“Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him.” Acts 20:17

“To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.” Philip 1:1

Q. 15. What is meant by the pastors of the Church?

A. The presbyters or elders, who teach as well as rule.

Q. 16. Are any of these possessed of superior rank and authority in the Church above the others?

A. No. They are all of the same order and of equal authority.

Q. 17. Are not bishops an order of ministers distinct from and superior to presbyters or elders?

A. They are not. Bishop is only another name for the presbyter or elder.

Q. 18. How does this appear?

A. (1.) Bishops are not called in any part of the New Testament by any peculiar title to distinguish them from presbyters — none are constituted prelates, or lords over God's heritage; but on the contrary, bishop or overseer, and presbyter or elder, are applied to the same persons. Thus in Acts 20:17, those are called "elders," who are afterwards in the 28th verse called "overseers" that is
bishops; as the Greek word episcopoi denotes.

(2.) Nowhere in Scripture are there imposed on bishops duties or powers distinct from those of presbyters; nowhere are their qualifications stated to be different. Thus the apostle reminds Titus,
“This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you” Tit 1:5

In the next verse he specifies their qualifications as elders; and in the 7th verse, in enumerating these qualifications, he says, a
bishop must be blamneless, etc.

(3.) While the two titles are thus applied to the very same persons — presbyter referring to the rank, bishop to the duties of both — these persons are equal in all respects ; the only material difference that is discoverable being, that a higher degree of honour is to be conceded to those among them, who teach as well as rule.

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching.” 1 Tim 5:17. See also 1 Cor 12:28

(4.) All pastors derive their office and authority from Christ, by the same commission, and in the same words.

“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15

(5.) Since, then, all those who are called presbyters, are also called bishops; and those who are addressed as bishops, are also addressed as presbyters ; since the same rank, powers, qualifications, and duties, are connected with both of these designations, it is manifest that they are not separate classes or orders, but one and the same. Therefore the presbyter is the only scriptural bishop.

Q. 1 9. What sort of officers were Timothy and Titus?

A. They were extraordinary and itinerant officers.

“Do the work of an evangelist. “ 2 Tim 4:5

“As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit.” 2 Cor 8:23

“I urged Titus to go, and sent the brother with him.” 2 Cor 12:18

Q. 20. Does the word angel, as used in reference to the seven churches of Asia, in Revelations, designate an officer superior to the presbyter?

A. The word signifies merely a messenger, and may be applied to the teaching elder, or it may be taken to designate the moderator of the presbytery as the organ of communication; or it may signify the pastors of the churches in a collective capacity.

Some of you, that you, etc.; among you. Rev. 2:8, 10, 13

Q. 21. What is required in a man, to warrant his being ordained to the ministry?

A. He should be renewed by the Holy Spirit; persuaded in his own mind that he is called to the work of the ministry ; resolved to endure hardship as a soldier of Christ ; sound in the faith ;blameless and holy in the habits of his life ; possess such measure of knowledge, human and divine, as may qualify him to answer the gainsayer; and such gifts of utterance as may enable him to edify the church.

“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 2 Tim 1:13

“And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”  2 Tim 2:2

For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” Tit 1:7, 8

“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”  Matt 13:52

Q. 22. Who has authority to ordain to offices in the Church?

A. A presbytery or plurality of elders.

“Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you.”  1 Tim 4:14

“These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.” Acts 6:6

Q. 23. Is there any other permanent office in the Church but that of teaching?

A. There is also the office of ruling.
“Greet all your leaders and all the saints.”  Heb 13:24

Q. 24. To whom does it belong to exercise this office?

A. To the presbyters or elders.

The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter.”  Acts 15:6

“As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem.”  Acts 16:4

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour.” 1 Tim 5:17

Q. 25. How many classes of Elders are there?

A. Two — the Teaching Elder, and the Ruling Elder.

“Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honour, especially those who labour in preaching and teaching.”  1 Tim 5:17

“And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating.” 1 Cor 12:28

Q. 26. Are these to be regarded as distinct orders of office-bearers, possessing different degrees of authorit?

A. No. They are to be regarded as occupying different departments of the same general office, and of equal authority, as rulers of the Church.

Q. 27. Why are they thus distinguished?

A. Because the one class is ordained not only to rule, but also to teach, and the other to rule, as their distinctive duty.

Q. 28. What is the general duty of the Ruling Elders?

A. To act along with the Pastor, as  helps and governments in overseeing the Church, in exercising discipline and rule, and visiting the families and sick members for exhortation and prayer.

I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you”  1 Peter 5:1,2

Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him.” James 5:14

Q. 29. Is it a part of the Deacon's office to teach or rule in the Church?

A. No. Deacons are not spoken of anywhere in Scripture, in connexion with these duties.

Q. 30. For what duty were they appointed?

A. To manage the temporal affairs of the Church, and especially to attend to the wants of the poor, in order that the apostles or
teachers might give themselves continually to the ministry of the word, Acts 6:1 -4.

Q. 31. Did not Philip, who was a Deacon, teach and baptize?

A. Philip became an Evangelist, and as such, had authority to teach and baptize.

“On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist” Acts 21:8

Q. 32. Have the members of Churches the
right of choosing their own pastors and other office-bearers?

A. Yes. Churches have this privilege in common with all other free societies.

“And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen” Acts 6:6

And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace…” 2 Cor 8:19

Q. 33. How should Christians discharge this duty?

A. In a spirit of meekness, humility, peace, and prayer, with a supreme regard to the glory of Christ, and the spiritual interests of
the Church, without partiality, or respect of persons.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Phil 2:3

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Cor 10:31.

(To be continued...)