Presbtterianism (Gr. , elder), a system of church government by presbyters. These consist of two classes, teaching and ruling elders, the former answering to pastors or ministers, and the latter being the elected representatives of the congregation, and uniting with the pastor in the exercise of discipline. The pastor of a church and its ruling elders constitute the session of the local church, and manage its internal affairs. From its decision an appeal may be taken to the presbytery, which is composed of the pastor and an elder from each of the congregations within its bounds. In this country ministers without charge may also be members of the presbytery. The synod, to which appeal may be made from presbytery, is composed of several adjoining presbyteries. The general assembly, composed of representatives from all the presbyteries, may entertain appeals from synods in certain cases, but it can make no constitutional changes till the matter in question has been submitted to the presbyteries and has met their approval. In the established church of Scotland, a " commission " appointed by the assembly exercises to some extent executive and judicial functions.
Notwithstanding the diversity in the names and methods of these judicatures, a church may be strictly presbyterian without being dependent on the higher judicatories. Presbyterians believe in the parity of the ministry, and that each congregation has the right to elect its own officers. Elders are generally elected for life, although the French Reformed church elected them for a specified term, and this practice has of late been quite extensively revived in the United States. By the action of the northern general assembly in May, 1875, based upon the favorable response of a majority of the presbyteries to an overture sent down to them in 1874, all the churches under its care are now at liberty to adopt in the election of elders the principle of term service. - Presbyterians believe that the representative system of church government, in opposition to that which is conducted by the entire ecclesiastical population, has its germ in the Old Testament; inasmuch as the people of Israel, at various periods of their history, had " wise and able men " set over them, who were styled elders; and especially as this is well known to have been a distinctive feature of the synagogue system up to the time of the advent of Christ. And as each particular synagogue was governed by a bench of elders, of which the bishop or " angel of the church " was the presiding officer, so the whole Jewish body was reckoned as one.
In cases of alleged erroneous judgment, there were always appeals admitted to the "great synagogue " at Jerusalem, where there was an opportunity of having wrong decisions reversed. The first converts to Christianity being all native Jews, who had been accustomed to the exercise of government by benches of elders, it was natural that they should adopt the representative plan in organizing the primitive church. Accordingly, we read in the New Testament of " elders being ordained in every church;" of an important question being referred to a synod made up of " apostles and elders;" of "elders who ruled well, but did not labor in the word and doctrine;" of the " elders of the church being called for to visit and pray over the sick," etc. So also Presbyterians hold that preaching the gospel, "feeding the sheep and the lambs" of Christ, and administering the Christian sacraments, are the highest offices intrusted to Christian ministers; that a plurality of elders was, by divine direction, ordained in every church; that in no instance in the New Testament do we find an organized congregation under the watch and care of a single officer; that bishop and elder are titles given interchangeably to the same persons, showing that the title of bishop in the apostolic age designated the pastor or overseer of a single flock or church.
They hold that there is but one commission given to the authorized ministers of the word and sacraments; that the ordaining power is manifestly represented as possessed and exercised by ordinary pastors, and that ordination is performed by " the laying on of the hands of the presbytery;" that there is not a solitary instance recorded in the New Testament of an ordination being performed by a single individual; that even when deacons were set apart to their office, it is evident from the narrative (Acts vi. 1-6) that a plurality laid hands upon them with fasting and prayer. They moreover believe that the whole visible church was regarded as one body, subject to the same authority, and regulated by the same judicial decisions; in illustration of which they refer to the fact that when a question arose which was of common interest to the whole Christian community, it was decided by a synod of the "apostles and elders at Jerusalem," and the decrees of that synod were sent down to " all the churches" to be registered and obeyed.
Presbyterians assert that the system of ecclesiastical government disclosed by the epistles of Ignatius and Clemens Romanus is thoroughly presbyterian; that this system prevailed for more than 100 years after the apostolic age; that the first inroads upon it were by the pastors of the large towns claiming special preeminence and power as peculiarly the successors of the apostles, and that this claim came gradually to be admitted, and was at last permanently established. They maintain, however, that the admission of this claim was never by any means universal; that the Paulicians in the 7th century,' and after them the Waldenses and Albigenses, earnestly protested against all encroachments on presbyterian simplicity; and that when the reformation came, there was a vast preponderance of opinion among the leaders in that movement in favor of the presbyterian system; and the reformed churches in France, Germany, Holland (see Reformed (Dutch) Church), Hungary, Geneva, and Scotland were substantially presbyterian, modelled after the plan laid down by Calvin in his "Institutes," which he only partially succeeded in establishing at Geneva, when the " council " had succeeded to some of the prerogatives of the exiled bishops. (See Calvin.) The different bodies into which the Presbyterian church is divided are as follows.
The first general and public movement leading to the organization of the Presbyterian church of Scotland was the drawing up of a common bond or covenant, known as " The First Covenant," and subscribed at Edinburgh, Dec. 3, 1557, by several of the most powerful of the Scotch nobility and a large number of lesser barons and influential country gentlemen, known subsequently (on account of their frequent use of the word congregation to designate those for whom they professed to act) as lords of the congregation. The signing of the covenant was followed by a proclamation from the queen regent forbidding any one to preach or administer the sacrament without the authority of the bishop. The result was a collision of the royal power with popular feeling, and when the latter was at its height, in connection with the trial of offenders which the queen had falsely promised to defer, the lords of the congregation summoned John Knox from Geneva. He landed at Leith, May 2, 1559. The council, then engaged in the trial, was panic-struck, and dispersed.
Four weeks later the "Second Covenant " was subscribed, and on Dec. 20, 1560, the first general assembly of the church of Scot-landmet in Edinburgh. The "First Book of Discipline " was soon after drawn up, but the task of perfecting the organization of the church, which Knox had begun, devolved upon Andrew Melville, who arrived from Geneva in 1574. In 1578 the " Second Book of Discipline," thenceforth the authorized standard of the church of Scotland, was adopted. It was ratified by the parliament, but incessantly opposed by James I., who in 1621 so far succeeded in his attempt to introduce a modified episcopacy as to secure the adoption of what are known as the five Perth articles. In prosecuting the policy of securing a more perfect ecclesiastical conformity of Scotland to England, Charles I. was met by such a tide of popular and enthusiastic opposition as defeated his projects and led England and Scotland to unite in the " Solemn League and Covenant" (1643), and in the convocation at the same time of the Westminster assemblv of divines, by whom the confession and catechisms since recognized as the standards of the Presbyterian church were drawn up.
On the restoration of Charles II. Episcopacy was reestablished in Scotland; but the Presbyterians still resolutely adhered to their principles, and on the deposition of James II. they confidently anticipated the triumph of their cause. Though William III. was bent on preserving the same form of ecclesiastical government in England and Scotland, the bishops refused to transfer their allegiance to him, and by this means the way was opened for that establishment of presbytery which had been urged upon him by some of his most zealous adherents, and which was ratified by an act of parliament in 1690. Thus, Scotland and England having been separate kingdoms at the time of the reformation, a difference of circumstances in the two countries ultimately led to different religious establishments; and when the treaty of union was formed in 1707, it was agreed by both kingdoms that Episcopacy should continue in England, and Presbyterianism should be the only religious system recognized by the state in Scotland. The only confession of faith legally established before the revolution of 1688 is that which is published in the "History of the Reformation in Scotland," attributed to John Knox. It consists of 25 articles, and was the confession as well of the Episcopal as of the Presbyterian church.
The Covenanters, indeed, during the commonwealth, adopted the Westminster confession. At the revolution this confession was received as the standard of the national faith; and it was ordained by the same acts of parliament which settled Presbyterian church government in Scotland, "that no person be admitted or continued hereafter to be a minister or preacher within this church unless he subscribe the [that is, this] confession of faith, declaring the same to be the confession of his faith." By the act of union in 1707, the same is required of all professors, principals, regents, masters, and others bearing office. The Westminster confession of faith then, and what are called the larger and shorter catechisms, contain the publicly recognized doctrines of this church; and it is well known that these formularies are an embodiment of the Calvinistic faith. No liturgy or public form of prayer is used in the church of Scotland, the minister's only guide being the "Directory for the Public Worship of God." The administration of the Lord's supper, as a general thing observed four times a year, is conducted with simple forms, but is accompanied, and sometimes preceded and followed, by extra religious services, consisting of prayers and exhortations.
The metrical version of the Psalms by Francis Rous (died 1659) is used, and supplementary hymns have recently been introduced. The provision which has been made by the law of Scotland for the support of the clergy of the established church consists of a stipend, a small glebe of land, and a manse (parsonage house) and office houses. By an act of parliament passed in 1810, £10,000 per annum was granted for augmenting the smaller parish stipends in Scotland. By this act the lowest stipend assigned to a minister of the establishment is £150 sterling, with a small sum, generally £8 6s. 8d., for communion elements. Patronage was abolished in Scotland in 1649; was revived at the restoration; was partly abrogated at the revolution, and again revived in 1712. From the first it was strenuously resisted by a portion of the church, on the ground that it invaded the headship of Christ, robbed the people of their rights, and made them dependent upon the presentation of the patron. It has frequently resulted in scenes of violence, and to it the repeated secessions from the church have been due.
The first who formally withdrew were the Covenanters or Cameronians, • who objected to the interference of the state authorities in church affairs, and to the Erastian principles involved in any establishment of religion, as inconsistent with the covenant to which the church had sworn. (See Cameronians.) The first secession after the church was established originated in a discourse by Ebenezer Erskine before the synod of Perth in 1732. His severe remarks on patronage drew upon him the censure of the synod, and in 1733 he was excluded by the general assembly from the ministry of the church. Three other ministers who sustained him shared his fate, and united with him to form the Associate presbytery. Assured of much popular sympathy, this body rapidly increased. In 1747 its members were divided in sentiment as to the lawfulness of taking what was called the burgher oath, and the result was the separation of the body into the Burgher and Anti-Burgher synods. Each continued to increase, and each had its adhering organization in America, but a reunion was effected in 1820. The next secession took place in connection with the deposition of the Rev. Thomas Gillespie by the general assembly of 1752, for refusing to assist in the installation of a minister presented by a patron against the will of the congregation.
This secession.is known as the Relief. Receiving accessions and sympathy from English dissenters, it manifested a more liberal spirit than the previous secession. Strengthened by popular sympathy, it continued to prosper, and, after rejoicing in the reunion of the two branches of the Associate church in 1820, was prepared in 1847 to unite itself with them to constitute the body known as the United Presbyterian church of Scotland. This body now has nearly half as many ministers as the established church. The next secession, that of the Free church of Scotland in 1843, was more extensive and memorable than any that preceded it. For more than half a century the established church had been divided into two parties: the moderates, who are ridiculed in Dr. "Witherspoon's " Characteristics," and were decidedly in the ascendant, and the evangelicals, who were more in sympathy with missions and denominational cooperation, and strongly opposed to patronage. Resistance to patronage when enforced by the civil courts Drought matters to a crisis, and under the lead of Drs. Welsh and Chalmers more than 400 ministers withdrew in a body from the establishment, leaving manse, glebe, and church edifice behind them, and throwing themselves upon the voluntary .support of their people.
The pastors were sustained, new church edifices were built, and in less than a generation the Free church has doubled in numbers and strength. (See Free Church of Scotland.) Recovering from the depression occasioned by the last secession, the established church has continued steadily though slowly to increase, until recently, by the action of the British parliament, it has secured a final release from the incubus of patronage that had so long rested upon it. The three principal Presbyterian bodies in Scotland have a relative strength, when judged by the number of their ministers, to which the churches nearly correspond, as follows: the established church about 1,300, the Free church 900, and the United Presbyterians 600; to which may be added the Reformed Presbyterians, dating from the period of persecution, 40 ministers, and the Original Seceders, 25 ministers.
Presbyterians settled in Ireland shortly after the reformation, and were at first admitted to the privileges and emoluments of the Episcopal church. They were not tenacious about matters of church polity, for some of the pastors received ordination at the hands of a bishop, and the people conformed without scruple to some of the ceremonies of the established church. In the reign of Charles I., and during the administration of Laud, the interests of the Irish Presbyterians greatly suffered; the statutes of the college at Dublin, authorizing the admission of Presbyterians to its privileges and honors, were remodelled; their confession recognized in 1615 was set aside; and their ministers were ejected from their charges for nonconformity. During the protectorate of Cromwell they were again raised to the status of ministers of the national establishment. At the restoration, when Charles II. attempted to introduce episcopacy into Scotland, many of the inhabitants took refuge in Ireland; and thereby the cause of Presbyterianism received a fresh impulse. This was not diminished by the accession of William of Orange to the British crown; for he had been educated in Holland to a decided preference for the doctrines and discipline of that church.
Nor did subsequent events tend to lessen his respect for the adherents of that system in Ireland; for when James II. landed there, with a view, through the invasion of this kingdom, of overturning the government, the Presbyterians rallied around the standard of their Protestant champion, and by their memorable defence of Londonderry, as well as the assistance they rendered at the battle of the Boyne, mainly contributed toward the success of his arms. As a testimony of his gratitude he doubled the sum originally given for the support of their ministers, hence known as the regium donum. On grounds of justice as well as favor, this was repeatedly augmented by the crown, until it amounted to about an average of £70 to each clergyman. With the disestablishment of the Episcopal church of Ireland, under Gladstone's recent ministry, the regium donum was discontinued, and the Presbyterian church of Ireland is entirely relieved from state dependence. In 1854 the Presbyterian church there was composed of the following bodies: the general synod of Ulster, the Presbyterian synod of Munster, the presbytery of Antrim, and the Seceders and Covenanters. The first two and most prominent of these have since united, forming a body which embraces 5 synods, 36 presbyteries, 491 congregations, and 593 ministers, and raises annually for missions and missionary schools about £9,000, besides sustaining various other evangelical'enterprises.. Though recognizing the principle of a civil establishment of religion, its views of the subject are more in harmony with those of the Free church than of the established church of Scotland.
The Presbyterian church of the United States was originally composed of various elements. Francis Makemie, who may be called its founder, was an Irishman, who, several years before the close of the 17th century, had gathered churches in Maryland, where toleration was enjoyed, and extended his labors also into Virginia, as far as the laws of that colony would permit. For several years before the organization of the first presbytery, his most intimate ministerial friend was Jedidiah Andrews, settled in 1698 over a church in Philadelphia. Ministers were sought for new congregations, with equal earnestness, from New England and abroad, Makemie himself visiting Boston to confer with Cotton Mather on the subject, and secure those whom an unfriendly writer of the time styles " Cotton Mather's emissaries," and crossing the ocean to bring back with him Hampton and Macnish, while also appealing for men and aid to Scottish and Irish Presbyterians and London dissenters. The churches at Jamaica, L. I., Newark, Freehold, and Wood-bridge, N. J., and others which like them subsequently became Presbyterian, were largely of New England origin, and in the records of the times are spoken of somewhat indiscriminately as Scotch Independents or Presbyterians. By their locality they were separated from Congregational association, while in Connecticut a semi-Presbyterianism had been introduced (1709) by the Saybrook platform, and in Massachusetts the old usage of ruling elders had died out within the memory of men then living.
But from abroad came Scotch and Irish Presbyterians, Welsh Calvinists, English dissenters, Reformed Dutch, and French Huguenots, blending diversely in different localities, but leaving the New England and Scotch-Irish elements predominant, and nearly of equal strength. By 1716 the Presbyterian body had so far increased as to warrant its division to form a synod. Harmony prevailed till about 1727, when, by ministers from Ireland, where the controversy against Arianism had excited a jealousy of loose subscription to the standards, the question was thrust upon the attention of the American synod, while the New England element was unanimous against the introduction of any new rule. A compromise, known as the adopting act, was effected in 1729, although it resulted in one or two secessions, which prepared the way for the establishment in this country of a branch of the Associate Presbyterian church. In 1739 party feelings were revived by the visit of White-field, and the synod was divided into those who were known as friends or enemies of the revival. The Tennents, active in the revival, sympathized with Whitefield, and, with the graduates of their "log college," furnished to the presbyteries candidates whom their opponents regarded as more zealous than learned or discreet.
Thus the " New Side," as the Ten-nent party were called, insisted most on piety, while the "Old Side" demanded candidates with diplomas. In 1741, through a rash and violent protest of the New Side, the synod came to an open rupture. The New York presbytery, absent at the time, united four years later with the New Side to constitute the synod of New York, while the Old Side retained the former organization as the synod of Philadelphia. The New Side, to which the celebrated Samuel Davies of Virginia belonged, indisposed longer to patronize Yale college, from which David Brainerd had been recently expelled, sent Davies and Gilbert Tennent across the ocean to solicit funds for endowing Princeton college. That institution went into successful operation, and with ministerial accessions from New England, the New Side no longer suffered from lack of candidates. Supplying vacant churches and engaging in mission work, they soon outstripped the Old Side in numbers as well as enterprise; and in 1758, when the two bodies reunited to form the synod of New York and Philadelphia, the New Side outnumbered the Old Side, in ministers and churches, in the proportion of about three to one.
The united body steadily increased, sending some of its strongest men on missions to Virginia and the Carolinas. But its progress was arrested by the revolutionary war, during which the synod sometimes found it difficult or impracticable to meet, and the churches, often deprived of the labors of their pastors, who were fugitives or in the camp as chaplains, suffered a decline. In the course of a few years after the war new presbyteries were organized in western Pennsylvania, Virginia, and the Carolinas, and new churches were gathered west of the Alleghanies. In 1785 steps were taken for revising the standards of the church and organizing a general assembly. A committee, consisting of Drs. Witherspoon, Rodgers, Robert Smith, Patrick Allison, Samuel Stanhope Smith, John Wood-hull, Robert Cooper, James Latta, George Duf-field, and Matthew Wilson, was appointed to "take into consideration the constitution of the church of Scotland and other Protestant churches," and to form a complete system for the organization of the Presbyterian church in the United States. In May, 1788, the synod completed the revision and arrangement of the public standards.
The new arrangement consisted in dividing the old synod into four synods, namely, the synods of New York and New Jersey, of Philadelphia, of Virginia, and of the Carolinas, and constituting over these, as a bond of union, a general assembly, of essentially the same type with the general assembly of the church of Scotland. The Westminster confession of faith was adopted, with three slight alterations, and the larger and shorter catechisms, with but a single alteration, while the form of government and discipline of the Scottish church was slightly modified, to accord with our civil government and circumstances. No change has since been made, except that the form of government has been twice revised, one of the most important alterations having been an increase in the number of ministers requisite to send a delegate to the general assembly. Toward the close of the last century an extensive and powerful revival prevailed in Kentucky. A lack of ministers led many to favor the application of pious but uneducated men as candidates. Opposition to the project was strengthened by errors which had sprung up in connection with the revival.
The severe measures of the synod, sustained by the action of the assembly, precipitated a secession, which became the germ of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, which in 1875 reported in connection with its general assembly 25 synods, 110 presbyteries, 2,250 congregations, 1,250 ministers, and 100,000 communicants. (See Cumberland Presbyterians.) - In 1822, the synod of the Associate Reformed church having been brought, under the lead of Dr. John M. Mason, to favor union with the Presbyterian church, that union took place; but a very considerable minority refused to acquiesce in the measure, and retained a separate existence. During the 15 years that followed, the growth of the church was un-precedentedly rapid. New churches and presbyteries were multiplied in the middle and western states. Already measures had been adopted (1812) which resulted in establishing Princeton seminary, Union seminary in Virginia, and, though unendowed, the Southern and Western, at Marysville, Tenn. Auburn followed in 1816; the Western at Allegheny and Lane at Cincinnati in 1826-'7; Columbia, S. C, and Danville, Ky., in 1828; and Union at New York in 1836. The accessions from New England, at the time in full theological sympathy with the Presbyterian church, were provided for by the "Plan of Union" agreed to by the general association of Connecticut and the general assembly in 1801. It aimed to secure the rights and the harmonious cooperation of two denominations, entering the same field.
For nearly a quarter of a century no fault was found with it; but it led to the representation in presbytery and general assembly of committeemen from Congregational churches, and these were found to favor voluntary missionary societies, not under the assembly's control. Of these societies, that for home missions, within a few years after its organization in 1826, had several hundred missionaries under its patronage. Most of these were from New England, and many of them were alike opposed to church boards and in sympathy with " New Haven theology." Parties were thus formed in the church, and the agitation on the subject of slavery, springing up at that time, tended to increase the alienation. The crisis came in 1837. The plan of union, through which, it was charged, the evils of the church had been introduced, was declared unconstitutional and void, and the four synods which had been organized under it were declared to be outside the Presbyterian church. Among these were many churches originally and soundly Presbyterian; and, indignant at an act of the assembly which they believed subversive of the constitution of the church, the New School resolved to maintain their rights.
By preconcerted arrangement, at the assembly of 1838 they effected an organization for themselves and then adjourned to another place. As they withdrew, the Old School members who remained perfected their organization, and thus there were at once an Old and a New School assembly, bearing the same name and claiming the same rights. Litigation ensued, but no decision changed the relations of parties or the tenure of property save in some few instances. The New School was numerically the smaller body, and moreover was encumbered alike by its Congregational allies and its southern adherents. In the course of a few years the former fell off, and in 1857 the latter, under the lead of commissioners who had attended the assembly at Cleveland, O., prepared to withdraw and constitute the united synod, which was organized at Knoxville, Tenn., April 2, 1858. In connection with the synod were over 100 ministers and somewhat fewer than 200 churches, widely scattered over the southern states. This body continued a separate organization until Aug. 27, 1864, when it was merged in the general assembly formed by southern ministers and churches previously in the Old School connection.
The Old School after 1837, with greater homogeneousness as well as greater strength than the New School, made more rapid progress, especially in the south and southwest. It had all its machinery of ecclesiastical boards in full and harmonious operation, meeting wants for which the New School had to provide by substantially the same methods, when they found that voluntary societies counterworked their policy. But in 1861, on the outbreak of the civil war, almost the entire body of the Old School southern churches,' aggrieved by the assembly's resolution on the state of the country, withdrew their connection and united in the organization of a " General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of America." This organization was effected at Augusta, Ga., Dec. 4,1861. The second assembly convened at Montgomery, Ala., May 1, 1862, since which time the meetings of the assembly have been annually held contemporaneously with those of the northern assemblies, and the church has perfected its organization for the work of ministerial education, home and foreign missions, publication, etc.
The advance of the church, steady but not rapid, has been made in the face of great difficulties, and its present strength is represented by 11 synods, 55 presbyteries, over 900 ministers, and more than 1,500 cjmrches, with a membership of about 90,000. The Old and New School bodies, retaining the same standards, and working more and more by analogous methods, were steadily approximating, while old alienations died away; and when the southern secession from the Old School brought it more into harmony with the New School on one very important issue, the way was prepared for those negotiations and conferences by committees - initiated when, in 1866, the two assemblies met in St. Louis - which resulted in the reunion of the two bodies, fully accomplished in 1871. The aggregate of synods and presbyteries was reduced when those occupying the same field were brought into the same organization, but the latest annual report to the assembly (1875) shows that there are in connection with it 36 synods, 173 presbyteries, 4,706 ministers, 4,999 churches, and 506,034 communicants.
The contributions to home and foreign missions, education for the ministry, publication, freedmen, sustentation, and ministerial relief, for the year 1874-'5, amounted to $1,464,971. - Notwithstanding Presbyterianism has never prevailed extensively in New England, it has had a distinct and independent existence there from a very early period. The French church in Boston, formed of Huguenots about 1687, was the first church organized on a Presbyterian basis, but was continued no longer than while its service was conducted in the French language. The first Presbyterian organization in New England of any permanence dates back to about the year 1718, when a large number of Presbyterians, with four ministers, emigrated to this country from the north of Ireland. For some time, in cases of difficulty, the ministers and elders were wont to assemble informally, and hold what might be called pro re nata meetings; and where they were unable to reach a satisfactory result, they sometimes asked advice of the synod of Ireland. On April 16,1745, the Rev. Messrs. John Morehead of Boston, David McGregor of Londonderry, N. II., and Ralph Abercrombie of Pelham, with Messrs. James McKeen, Alexander Conkey, and James Hughes, met in Londonderry, and " constituted themselves into a presbytery, to act, as far as their present circumstances will permit them, according to the word of God and the constitution of the Presbyterian church of Scotland, agreeing to that perfect rule." The body was called the Boston presbytery, and met, according to adjournment, in that town, Aug. 13, 1745. From the close of the year 1754 till October, 1770, there is a chasm in the records; but at the last mentioned period the presbytery consisted of 12 congregations and as many ministers.
At a meeting held in Seabrook, N. H., on May 31, 1775, the presbytery resolved to divide itself into three distinct bodies, viz., the presbyteries of Salem, of Londonderry, and of Palmer; these wete then formed into the synod of New England, which held its first meeting at Londonderry, Sept. 4, 1776. At Boothbay, Me., on June 27, 1771, a new presbytery was erected called the presbytery of the Eastward, consisting of three ministers and four ruling elders, representing four churches. It had no connection with the Boston presbytery, and its origin is said to have been in some way connected with the removal of the Rev. John Murray to Boothbay. It never exhibited on its roll more than eight ministers. Its last recorded adjournment now known was to meet at New Boston, N. H., on the first Wednesday of October, 1792. The only relic of this presbytery known to exist is a curious volume printed in 1783, with the following title: " Bath-Kol. A Voice from the Wilderness. Being an hum-ble Attempt to support the sinking Truths of God against some of the principal Errors raging at this time. Or a joint Testimony to some of the Grand Articles of the Christian-Religion, judiciously delivered to the Churches under their care.
By the First Presbytery of the Eastward." In September, 1782, the synod of New England, finding their numbers considerably reduced in consequence of existing difficulties, agreed to dissolve and form themselves into the presbytery of Salem. For two succeeding years this presbytery met regularly in Massachusetts proper, but after this its meetings were held in the district of Maine. Its last meeting was held at Gray, Sept. 14, 1791. The third Associate Reformed presbytery, afterward called the Associate Reformed presbytery of Londonderry, was formed in Philadelphia, Oct. 31, 1782, and held its first meeting at Londonderry on Feb. 11, 1783. It ceased to belong to its original denomination in 1802, and was thereafter an independent presbytery till 1809, when it was received into the synod of Albany, and has since continued under the name of the presbytery of Londonderry. The presbytery of Newburyport was formed by the concurrent action of the presbytery of Londonderry and the synod of Albany. It held its first session in Boston on Oct. 27, 1826, and its last on Oct. 20, 1847, when it became reunited to the presbytery of Londonderry. The presbytery of Connecticut, consisting of several ministers and churches previously belonging to the presbytery of New York, was constituted by the synod of New York, Oct. 15, 1850, and held its first meeting at Thompsonville on Oct. 29.
As this body is composed of the Associate Reformed and the Associate churches, it may be proper to present an outline of the history of each of these bodies up to the time of the union.
In 1680 Lord Cardross took measures for the establishment of a colony in South Carolina, with a view to furnish a place of refuge to his persecuted brethren. This was formed at Port Royal; but, in consequence of an invasion by the Spaniards, the colony was abandoned in 1688. Many, however, remained in Carolina, who were gathered into congregations under the care of a presbytery, which existed until about the close of the 18th century. The only one of these churches now remaining is the old Scots' church in Charleston. From 1660 to 1688 a large number of Presbyterians (amounting, according to Wodrow, to about 3,000) were transported to the American plantations and sold as slaves. They were for the most part sent to Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey; but scarcely any traces of their history now remain. The first minister sent to this country by the Secession church of Scotland was the Rev. Alexander Gellatly, who arrived in 1753, and, after a laborious ministry of eight years, died at Octorara, Pa. The Covenanters, or Reformed Presbyterians (ecclesiastical descendants of that portion of the church of Scotland which refused to accede to the revolutionary settlement of 1688, as established on the Erastian principle of conceding to the state power over the church), sent out the Rev. John Cuthbertson in 1751; and in 1774 he was followed by Messrs. Lind and Dobbin. Of these two denominations the Associate Reformed church was made up.
In 1764 the Rev. Thomas Clark, minister of Ballybay in Ireland, belonging to the Burgher synod of Scotland, with the greater part of his congregation, emigrated to this country, and settled at Salem, Washington co., N. Y. Two other ministers of the same communion followed them two years after, though one of them subsequently returned to Scotland. The Burgher ministers, not being disposed to keep up a separate organization on this side of the Atlantic, united with their brethren; but the union was disturbed by the refusal of the Scottish synod to approve of it. The revolution of 1776 was chiefly instrumental in bringing about the union which produced the Associate Reformed church. During the progress of the war several conventions were held between the members of the Associate and the Reformed presbyteries with a view to the accomplishment of this end; the result of which was that three presbyteries met in Philadelphia in October, 1782, and formed themselves into a synod, under the name of the Associate Reformed synod of North America, on a basis consisting of the following articles: "1. That Jesus Christ died for the elect. 2. That there is an appropriation in the nature of faith. 3. That the gospel is addressed indiscriminately to sinners of mankind. 4. That the righteousness of Christ is the alone condition of the covenant of grace. 5. That civil government originates with God the Creator, and not with Christ the Mediator. 6. The administration of the kingdom of Providence is given into the hand of Jesus Christ the Mediator; and magistracy, the ordinance appointed by the moral Governor of the world, to be the prop of civil order among men, as well as other things, is rendered subservient by the Mediator to the welfare of his spiritual kingdom, the church, and has sanctified the use of it and of every common benefit, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. 7. That the law of nature and the moral law revealed in the Scriptures are substantially the same, although the latter expresses the will of God more evidently and clearly than the former, and therefore magistrates among Christians ought to be regulated by the general directory of the Word as to the execution of their office. 8. That the qualifications of justice, veracity, etc, required in the law of nature for the being of a magistrate, are also more explicitly revealed as necessary in the Holy Scriptures. But a religious test, any further than an oath of fidelity, can never be essentially necessary for the being of a magistrate, except when the people make it a condition of government. 9. That both parties, when united, shall adhere to the Westminster confession of faith, the catechisms, the directory for worship, and propositions concerning church government. 10. That they shall claim the full exercise of church discipline without dependence upon foreign judicatories." On this basis all the members of the Reformed presbytery, and all the Associate ministers with the exception of two members of the presbytery of Pennsylvania, united.
A small minority of the people in the two communions also declined to enter into it; and in these minorities have been preserved the Covenanter or Reformed Presbyterian denomination on the one hand, and the Associate on the other. The earliest settlements of the Associate Reformed church were in Pennsylvania, within the Cumberland valley; but colonies from these emigrated to South Carolina and Georgia, New York, Kentucky, and even to New Hampshire and Maine. One of the first acts of the synod, after its organization in 1782, was the adoption of a series of articles, afterward published under the name of " The Constitution of the Associate Reformed Church;" but these articles were severely attacked both by the Seceders and Covenanters, and were finally laid aside for a fuller exposition of the church's faith. The result was that the Westminster confession and the catechism, after a careful revision at several successive meetings of synod, in the articles relating to the power of the magistrate, were published in a volume in 1799, entitled "The Constitution and Standards of the Associate Reformed Church in North America." The ground occupied by this body was substantially the same with that held by the church in Scotland. For 20 years the growth of the church was very rapid; and this led to the adoption of a measure in 1803 which proved premature and adverse to its prosperity, namely, the division of the church into the four provincial synods of New York, Pennsylvania, Scioto, and the Carolinas, under a representative general synod.
In 1804 the plan of the theological seminary was framed. Dr. John M. Mason was chosen professor of theology; and the sessions of the seminary began in the autumn of the same year in the city of New York. This was the second theological seminary established in the United States. Dr. Mason's work on " Catholic Communion," published in 1816, was regarded as being in conflict with the church's principles and practice; and this, in connection with some other grounds of complaint, led the entire synod of Scioto in 1820 to withdraw from the superintendence of the general synod. In 1821 the synod of the Carolinas petitioned the general synod to be erected into an independent synod, on the ground that they were so distant from the place at which the general synod usually assembled that it was impossible that they should be represented in it. The request was granted. For many years after that the southern synod gained but little in numbers, though in later years it became more prosperous; while the western synod rapidly extended itself and became more vigorous every year.
About the time of the separation of the western synod, an unsuccessful attempt was made to unite the Associate Reformed and the Reformed Dutch churches, under the name of the Reformed Protestant church of North America. Immediately after this, measures were adopted for effecting a union between the Associate Reformed and the Presbyterian bodies; the consequence of which was that a portion of the former church became incorporated with the latter, and the library of the Associate Reformed church was immediately removed from New York to Princeton; though, as the result of a legal process, it ultimately fell back into the hands of its original owners. The act of union by the general synod of the Associate Reformed church was unconstitutional, being contrary to the express will of a majority of the presbyteries. However, many of the ministers and congregations who had remained under the care of the general synod went into this union. The synod of Pennsylvania with but few exceptions was merged in it, and that synod never met again. The synod of New York, however, survived the dissolution of the general synod, becoming separate and independent like its two sister synods of the west and south.
But its interests languished till 1829, when it resolved to revive the seminary, whose operations had been suspended in 1821, and to establish it at Newburgh, under the care of the Rev. Joseph McCarroll, D. D., who was at the same time chosen professor of theology. An attempt was made in 1827 to revive the general synod on the old footing, but it proved a failure. However, the synod of the west, having divided into two, erected a general synod, which first met in 1841, and under which a union was formed with the New York synod in 1855. This united body, previous to the union with the Associate church in 1858, numbered 4 synods, 28 presbyteries, 253 ministers and licentiates, 367 congregations, and 31,284 communicants. The remaining synod, known since 1821 as the Associate Reformed synod of the south, still has its separate organization. Cordial in its relations with the United Presbyterian church, it has one missionarv now labor-ing together with the missionaries of the latter church in Egypt. It has a literary institution named Erskine college and a theological school, both at Due West, S. C. It numbers about 70 ministers, nearly one third of whom are in South Carolina, the rest in other southern states.
From 1782, the period of the formation of the Associate Reformed church, the Associate church was gradually increased by ministers sent out from Scotland, and also by the return of a considerable part of those who had previously joined the union. The first institution for the purpose of educating students in theology by this body was established in 1793, under the care of the Rev. John Anderson, D. D., of Beaver co., Pa. The presbytery of Pennsylvania, being unable to meet the applications for preaching which were made from Kentucky and Tennessee, directed the applicants to apply directly to the synod in Scotland for missionaries. They did so; and Messrs. Armstrong and Andrew Fulton arrived in Kentucky in the spring of 1798, and in November formed the presbytery of Kentucky. This accession of strength enabled these presbyteries to form themselves into a synod; and accordingly the synod, or court of review, designated as the Associate synod of North America, was constituted at Philadelphia in May, 1801. The synod consisted of 17 ministers, who were divided into the presbyteries of Philadelphia,, of Ohartiers, of Kentucky, and of Cambridge. Until the year 1818 appeals might be taken from the synod to that of Scotland; but at that time it was declared a coordinate synod by the general Associate synod of Scotland. Between the years 1838 and 1840 serious ecclesiastical difficulties arose, and several ministers were deposed or suspended.
These, with a number of ministers and congregations in sympathy with them, at once organized separately, having several presbyteries, who constituted a synod and claimed to be the true Associate synod. This painful division was afterward adjusted, and a reunion was effected in 1854. In 1858, previous to the union with the Associate Reformed church, the Associate synod comprised 21 presbyteries, 231 ministers and licentiates, 293 congregations, and 23,505 communicants. - In May, 1858, the Associate Reformed and the Associate churches, having been separated for more than three quarters of a century, were reunited upon a common basis, under the name of the United Presbyterian church in North America. A small number on each side protested against the union. In 1875 this branch of the church embraced a general assembly, 8 synods, 56 presbyteries, 611 ministers, 777 congregations, and 76,063 communicants. It has theological seminaries at Newburgh, N. Y., Allegheny, Pa., and Xenia, O., and missionary seminaries at Sioot and Ramleh, Egypt. Westminster, Monmouth, and Ohio Central colleges are also under its charge.
It has boards of foreign missions, of home missions, of publication, of church extension, of freedmen, and of education, with mission stations in China, India, Egypt, and Syria. Its periodical publications are one monthly, one semi-monthly, and two weekly newspapers.
At the union of the Associate and Reformed churches in 1782, a considerable number of the latter as well as of the former communion refused their assent to it, and they continued their original organization. "Within ten years four ministers emigrated from Europe, to aid in maintaining the Reformed Presbyterian cause, the last of whom arrived in 1793. Two of them, Messrs. Mc-Kinney and King, in connection with Mr. Gibson, who had then lately come from Ireland, proceeded in 1798 to constitute a presbyterial judicatory independent of all foreign control. This was styled the Reformed presbytery of the United States of America. In arranging the terms of her communion, she declared that she adopted the Reformed Presbyterian system only in so far as it presents common truths, and " binds to duties not peculiar to the church in the British isles, but common in all lands." The government of the church is purely pres-byterian; its doctrines are embodied in the Westminster standards; its worship is conducted in the simplest manner, without organs or hymns of human composition, and its distinguishing principle is Christ's headship over the nations.
In 1808 a synod, composed of three presbyteries, was constituted under the name of the synod of the Reformed Presbyterian church in the United States of North America. In 1825 the supreme judicatory received the form of a representative assembly composed of delegates from presbyteries, and styled the general synod. In the "Declaration and Testimony" of the church, published in 1843, the synod, declaring its approval of the Westminster confession, is careful to disclaim any recognition of the power of the civil magistrate in ecclesiastical matters, adding: " All that appertains to the magistratical power in reference to the church is the protection of her members in full possession, exercise, and enjoyment of their rights. The magistratical office is civil and political, and consequently altogether exterior to the church." The members of this body have declined to exercise the right of suffrage^ on the ground that they would thus sanction the omission from the constitution of the United States of any explicit acknowledgment of God as the author of civil society.
Principally on this ground, several ministers and private members in 1833 seceded from the general synod of the church, and formed a separate organization, known as the general synod of the Reformed reslbyte-rian church, but which has never embraced more than 20 or 30 ministers. Reformed Presbyterians are scattered over the middle and western states, and they have a few congregations at the south. The church consisted in 1874 of 100 ministers, 105 congregations, and 10,000 communicants, and had one college, one theological seminary, one weekly newspaper, two monthly publications, and boards of foreign missions, domestic missions, and education.
Presbyte-rianism has had an existence in Canada at least from the conquest in 1759. The first Presbyterian minister we hear of is the Rev. George Henry, who went to Quebec in the year 1755. He was followed in 1784 by the Rev. Alexander Spark, and it appears that in the year 1787 the first Presbyterian congregation was organized in Quebec. It was composed of several pious soldiers and a few civilians. In the year 1780 the Rev. Thomas Bethune, a minister of the church of Scotland, who had come as chaplain of a highland regiment, preached first in Montreal, and afterward organized several congregations in the county of Glengary. In Montreal a Presbyterian church was organized about the year 1790. They built St. Gabriel street church, which is still used as a Presbyterian church, and is the oldest Protestant church in Canada. In Upper Canada, now known as the province of Ontario, the pioneers of Presbyterianism were sent out by the Reformed Dutch church. One of the principal laborers thus sent Was the Rev. Robert McDowell, who was appointed by the classis of Albany as their missionary to Canada in 1798. He itinerated throughout the greater part of Upper Canada, forming and fostering congregations in various places.
He died at a very advanced age in 1841. The Rev. W. Smart, who was sent out from England in 1811, and who labored long and faithfully in Brockville; the Rev. W. Bell, ^ent out from Scotland in 1817; the Rev. William Jenkins, originally from Scotland, who went to Canada from the United States in 1817; the Rev. Robert Boyd, from the synod of Ulster, ordained in 1821; and the Rev. James Harris, also from Ireland, who began his labors in 1820 as pastor of the first Presbyterian church in York (now Toronto), were among the founders of the Presbyterian church in Canada. To Kingston and a few other places ministers were on application sent out by presbyteries in Scotland, the Rev. John Barclay being the first minister of Kingston. In 1825 the Glasgow colonial society was formed, which sent out many ministers to Lower and Upper Canada, as well as to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. These ministers were all of the church of Scotland. To Nova Scotia and New Brunswick the first Presbyterian ministers were sent from Scotland by the Burgher and Anti-Burgher synods.
A missionary was also sent in 1768 by the united synods of New York and Philadelphia. About 1769 the real work of building up a Presbyterian church in Nova Scotia may be said to have begun, the Rev. David Smith and the Rev. Daniel Cock having been sent out by the Burgher or Associate synod of Scotland. Seventeen years afterward the Rev. James McGregor was sent out by the Anti-Burgher or General Associate synod. From these beginnings grew up the presbytery of Truro (Burgher), established in 1786, and the presbytery of Picton (Anti-Burgher), in 1795. In 1817 these united, forming the Presbyterian church of Nova Scotia. Ministers from the church of Scotland came at a later date. In 1831 was formed the synod of the Presbyterian church of Canada in connection with the church of Scotland. The " United Synod of Upper Canada," consisting chiefly of ministers of the Associate church of Scotland, with some from Ireland, was formed about 1819, but in 1840 was amalgamated with the synod in connection with the church of Scotland. Several ministers from the Secession church of Scotland came to Canada about 1832, and the number was increased from time to time.
They were organized as the missionary synod of the United Secession church, and known afterward as the synod of the United Presbyterian church in Canada. - In 1844, the year after the disruption of the church of Scotland, a division took place in the Presbyterian church of Canada in connection with the church of Scotland, corresponding divisions taking place in Nova Scotia and the other maritime provinces. In Canada the new body took the name of the Presbyterian church of Canada. In 1861, after several years spent in negotiations, this body and the United Presbyterian church in Canada united under the designation of " The Canada Presbyterian Church," the corresponding bodies in the lower provinces uniting under the name of " The Presbyterian Church of the Lower Provinces." - In September, 1874, there were (omitting a few congregations connected with organizations in the United States) four Presbyterian bodies in the Dominion of Canada, viz.: the Presbyterian church of Canada in connection with the church of Scotland; the Canada Presbyterian church; the church of Scotland in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and adjoining provinces; and the Presbyterian church of the lower provinces.
In the Presbyterian church of Canada in connection with the church of Scotland there were 11 presbyteries and 122 ministers; in the Canada Presbyterian church, 19 presbyteries and 329 ministers; in the church of Scotland in Nova Scotia, etc, 6 presbyteries and 31 ministers; and in the Presbyterian church of the lower provinces, 10 presbyteries and 124 ministers. There were theological colleges in Toronto and Montreal belonging to the Canada Presbyterian church; at Kingston and Quebec, to the Presbyterian church of Canada in connection with the church of Scotland; and at Halifax, to the Presbyterian church of the lower provinces. Nearly one half of the ministers in the several provinces have been supplied by the theological colleges of the country. A plan of union between these bodies was consummated June 15, 1875, only a small minority of the first named of them declining to accede to it. The aggregate of the united church at that date was 634 ministers, 1,119 congregations, 90,658 communicants, and a population under its instruction of about 650,000. - General Council. A plan for a general council of all the Presbyterian bodies throughout the world was formed at the meeting of the evangelical alliance held in New York in 1873. A conference of nearly 100 delegates from such of these bodies as had expressed their approval of the plan met by previous arrangement in London, July 21, 1875. It assumed the name of " Alliance of Reformed Churches throughout the World," and formed a constitution to serve as a basis of union, which is to be voluntary and cooperative, not organic.
Its professed object is to promote mutual sympathy and help, diffuse information and thus aid in mission work, promote Christian reform in appropriate spheres, and oppose everywhere infidelity and religious intolerance. The integrity and autonomy of the constituent bodies is not to be interfered with; no ecclesiastical authority is to be assumed, and no doctrinal changes are to be required or imposed. The number of distinct Presbyterian 'bodies which, it is expected, will give in their adhesion, is nearly 50, embracing some 20,000 congregations. - Bibliography. On the history of the Presbyterian church in Scotland, the following works may be consulted: Robert Wodrow's "History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland" (2 vols, fol, Edinburgh, 1721-2); John McKerrow's "History of the Secession Church" (1839); Hethering-ton's "History of the Church of Scotland" (1843); McCrie's " Life of John Knox " (1813) and "Life of Melville" (1819); the younger McCrie's " Sketches of Scottish Church History " (1841); and the publications of the Wodrow Society (24 vols., 1842-'7). On the church in Ireland the best and main authority is the "History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland," by James S. Reid (3 vols., 1834-'7), with a continuation by Killen (1853). On American Presbyterian church history, the principal works are Webster's " History," reaching only to 1758 (8vo, Philadelphia, 1857); Hodge's " Constitutional History of the Presbyterian Church," terminating in 1788, with the adoption of the present constitution (2 vols., Philadelphia, 1840-'41); Gillett's " History of the Presbyterian Church" (2 vols. 12mo, Philadelphia, 1864; revised ed., 1875), bringing the history down to the time of its publication; Sprague's "Annals of the American Pulpit" (Presbyterian, 2 vols. 8vo, New York, 1858); besides a large number of local histories.
The minutes of the general assembly are published annually, and digests have been successively made, embodying up to the time of issue the leading measures of the church.