“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.
TEN REASONS FOR BEING A PRESBYTERIAN.
3. I AM A PRESBYTERIAN—because the form of Church Government, which we call Presbytery, is founded on the Word of God. The office-bearers in our Church are Scriptural in their offices and authority. In each of our congregations there is a Minister, whose special office it is to preach the Word and dispense the Sacraments. There is no difference of rank among these Ministers or Presbyters. All are equal as brethren, having one Master and King, even the Lord Jesus.—(Matt. xxiii. 8, 9, 10.) This is what we mean by Presbyterian parity. All our ministers are alike bishops or overseers, not of other ministers but of their own flocks; not prelates but pastors, as in apostolical times.
In our Presbyterian Churches, besides the minister, there are others whose office it is to aid in the oversight and government of the Church, in visiting the sick, and other spiritual superintendence of the people. These are usually termed “the Elders of the Church;” or sometimes Ruling Elders or Presbyters, (1 Tim. v. 17,) to distinguish them from the Pastors or preaching Presbyters, “who labour in word and doctrine.” And lastly, there are Deacons (Acts vi.), whose special office it is to care for the poor, and superintend those arrangements which promote the outward comfort of the congregation.
These three orders of office bearers are all that we believe to be permanent in the Church of Christ. That “Bishop” is only another name for “Presbyter,” and that there were not two distinct orders signified by these names, is proved by many parts of the Word of God. When Paul called the Elders (Presbyters) of the Ephesian Church, he charged them to take heed to the flock over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers (Bishops).—(Acts xx. 17-28.) So also Peter, in his first Epistle, chapter v. 1.—”The Elders who are among you I exhort, who am also an Elder.” Having therefore no sanction of Divine authority, nor apostolic usage, whence some Diocesan Bishops, Archbishops, Deans, Archdeacons, Lords Spiritual, Cardinals, or Pope, in the Church of Christ? Are these successors of the men whom Jesus called unto Him and said, “Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you.” “One is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.”