June 4: #4 of Ten Reasons for Being a Presbyterian

“The great thing in the Church is CHRIST, the blood of Christ, the Spirit of Christ, the presence of Christ among us. The great thing is Christ, but there is also advantage in a certain government of the Church of Christ. I am a Presbyterian, not only of situation, but of conviction and choice. Our Presbyterian way is the good middle way between Episcopacy on the one side, and Congregationalism on the other. We combine the two great principles that must be maintained in the Church—Order and Liberty; the order of government, and the liberty of the people.”—Merle d’ Aubigne.



4. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because there is no form of Church Government that so combines the two great principles, Order and Liberty—the Order of Government and the Liberty of the People.

The government is conducted by the office-bearers in individual churches, who constitute what we call Church Sessions; by the office-bearers of a number of churches, who form what we call Presbyteries; and by the office-bearers of a still greater number of churches, forming Synods or General Assemblies. A Church Session consists of the minister and the elders of a congregation; a Presbytery, of ministers and representative elders of several churches; and a Synod or Assembly, of ministers and elders of churches in a larger district or province.—(Acts xv.)

In countries where the number of Presbyterian churches is very great, the Assemblies are composed of representative ministers and elders chosen by each Presbytery. In all cases, Presbyteries and Synods consist of ministers and elders in equal numbers, deliberating and voting together. The Moderator or President of these Courts holds office only for a definite period, and is appointed sometimes by election, and sometimes by rotation. By these several and successive Church Courts, mature deliberation, impartial justice, and ecclesiastical order are secured. In cases of difficulty reference may be made and advice sought, and in dispute appeal may be taken from the Session to the Presbytery, and from the Presbytery to the Synod or Assembly of the Church.

Every congregation is free and independent in its local government and discipline, in the election of its office-bearers, in devising and executing its plans of Christian usefulness, and in the whole management of its affairs, so long as its acts are not inconsistent with the general rules and with the common weal of the Church. In all good government, civil or ecclesiastical, there is some central authority to confirm and regulate local liberty. This superintendence is exercised by each Presbytery over the several congregations within its bounds, and Presbyteries are under the control of Synods, and Synods are responsible to the General Assembly, in which the supreme power, legislative and executive, is vested.  .

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