“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.
9. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because the Church of Christ was Presbyterian in her earliest and purest times. Ecclesiastical history tells me by what steps came the predicted falling away from apostolical doctrine and order (2 Thess. ii. 3); how the primitive Episcopacy (which we still hold) was supplanted by Prelacy and Popery; and how those Churches which were God’s faithful witnesses in the midst of the Anti-Christian apostasy, the Waldensian, the Albigensian, and other martyr-Churches were Presbyterian. And when the time of Reformation came, when men stood, and saw, and asked for the ancient paths, then the good old way of Presbyterianism, with its Evangelical truth, its apostolical order, its wholesome discipline, and primitive worship, was with one consent resumed by the Reformed Churches. In England alone it was not so; but for this we satisfactorily account in the assumption of the headship of the Church by Henry VIII.—the indecision of Cranmer and the early Reformers—the limited extent to which the work of Reformation could be carried—together with other later events in England’s national history.
Although outward forms in themselves are of minor consequence, yet they are important as means for the building up of the spiritual Church. And if Church history is of any use, we should search it to see which form of Christianity best fulfills the purposes of a Church of Christ. Let Presbyterianism be so tried : contrast the state of the English Church as to vital religion in the Puritan times, and after the restoration of Charles II., and the ejection of the two thousand Nonconformists, nearly all of whom were Presbyterians; contrast the present state of Presbyterian Ulster with any other province of Ireland; contrast the state of Scotland with any other country of Europe; and every friend of Bible instruction, of Sabbath observance, of true religion, ought to rejoice in the prospect of Presbyterianism being extended in every part of the world.
10. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because I know of no Church that has been so valiant for the truth, or that has been honoured to do and suffer so much for the cause of Christ on earth. None can show a more goodly company of confessors, a more noble army of martyrs, than the Presbyterian Church. Let history testify this, from the earliest times, through the dark ages of Popery, down even to our own day, when the Free Church of Scotland, in her noble stand for truth, and in the sacrifices made by her ministers and people for Christ’s sake, has displayed a spirit worthy of olden times, and shown that living faith and high principle are yet to be found on the earth. While maintaining in common with other Protestants the truths relating to the Prophetical and Priestly offices of the Redeemer, the Presbyterian Church has especially been called on to testify and to suffer in defense of the Kingly office of Christ; that He is the only Head of the Church, visible and invisible, (Colossians i. 16, 17, 18,) that Christ alone is king in Zion—(Psalm ii. 6.)
The Bible teaches us to be subject to the powers that be, to render honour to whom honour is due, tribute to whom tribute, to all their dues (Rom xiii. 1—7), but not to render unto Caesar the things that are God’s—(Matt. xxii. 21.) While contending for spiritual independence against Erastians on the one hand, we contend against the spiritual supremacy of Papists and Prelatists on the other. Popery has ever found in our Church a stern and uncompromising opponent. She is no less opposed to Arian, Socinian, and other forms of Anti-Christian error. And though some have wrongfully used our name, and some branches of our Church have at times been on the side of error, true Presbyterians have ever been foremost in contending earnestly for the faith once delivered to the Saints.
For these and other reasons I am a Presbyterian. While I know that God has His people among different denominations of professing Christians, I prefer the Presbyterian Church, because I believe it to be most conformable to the Word of God, most conducive to the spread of truth and righteousness, and most fitted for the extension of the cause of Christ on the earth.
GRACE BE WITH ALL THEM THAT LOVE OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IN SINCERITY. AMEN.—EPH. VI. 24.