Irish Presbyterianism was carried to America by an unknown Irish minister in 1668.
See also Reformation; Presbyterianism; Cameronians.
PRESBYTERIANISM, a highly organized form of church government in which presbyters or elders occupy a prominent place.
As one of the three principal systems of ecclesiastical polity known to the Christian Church, Presbyterianism occupies an intermediate position between episcopacy and congregationalism.
In episcopacy the supreme authority is a diocesan bishop; in congregationalism it is the members of the congregation assembled in church meeting; in Presbyterianism it is a church council composed of representative presbyters.
In episcopacy the control of church affairs is almost entirely withdrawn from the people; in congregationalism it is almost entirely exercised by the people; in Presbyterianism it rests with a council composed of duly appointed office-bearers chosen by the people.
The ecclesiastical unit in episcopacy is a diocese, comprising many churches and ruled by a prelate; in congregationalism it is a single church, self-governed and entirely independent of all others; in Presbyterianism it is a presbytery or council composed of ministers and elders representing all the churches within a specified district.
It may be said broadly, therefore, that in .episcopacy the government is monarchical; in congregationalism, democratic; and in Presbyterianism, aristocratic or representative.
There are deacons in Presbyterianism inferior in rank to presbyters, their duties being regarded as non-spiritual.
17 The principle of ministerial parity which is fundamental in Presbyterianism is founded not merely on apostolic example but on the words of Christ Himself:" Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.
But it shall not be so among you."From the foregoing outline it will be seen that Presbyterianism may be said to consist in the government of the Church by representative assemblies composed of the two classe s of presbyters, ministers and elders, and so p ?'
The origin of Presbyterianism is a question of historical interest.
But Presbyterianism was associated in the 2nd century with a kind of episcopacy.
Even, therefore, where people desired the Reformation there were powerful influences opposed to the setting up of church government and to the exercise of church discipline after the manner of the apostolic Church; and one ceases to wonder at the absence of complete Presbyterianism in the countries which were forward to embrace and adopt the Reformation.
We look in vain, therefore, for much more than the germs and principles of Presbyterianism in the churches of the first Reformers.
The doctrines of Presbyterianism are those generally known as evangelical and Calvinistic. The supreme standard of belief is the Word of God in the original languages.
The form of worship associated with Presbyterianism has been marked by extreme simplicity.
Presbyterianism has two sacraments, baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Somewhat reluctantly it was accepted by Scottish Presbyterianism as a substitute for an older version with a greater variety of metre and music. "Old Hundred" and "Old 124th" mean the moth and 124th Psalms in that old book.
The object is not to form one great Presbyterian organization, but to promote unity and fellowship among the numerous branches of Presbyterianism throughout the world.
"In no portion of the empire," it has been said, "does the British flag now fly over a divided Presbyterianism, except in the British Isles themselves."
- [[History In Different Countries]] From this general outline of Presbyterianism we now turn to consider its evolution and history in some of the countries with which it is or has been specially associated.
The early Presbyterianism of Switzerland was defective in the following respects: (1) It started from a wrong definition of the Church, which, instead of being conceived as an organized community of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, was made to depend upon the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments.
It is pathetic and yet inspiring to study the development of Presbyterianism in France; pathetic because it was in a time of fierce persecution that the French Protestants organized themselves into churches, and inspiring, because it showed the power which scriptural organization gave them to withstand incessant, unrelenting hostility.
Their ecclesiastical polity came much more from Paris than from Geneva."2 To trace the history of Presbyterianism in France for the next thirty years would be to write the history of France itself during that period.
In 1789 all citizens were made equal before the law, and the position of Presbyterianism improved till 1791.
From the geographical position of the Netherlands, Presbyterianism there took its tone from France.
Only in Jersey and Guernsey, whither large numbers of Huguenots had fled after the St Bartholomew massacre, was Presbyterianism fully permitted.
The action of the Commons in 1584, stimulated by the opposition of the Lords, showed that the principles of Presbyterianism were strongly held.
The Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms are recognized and venerated standards in all the lands where British Presbyterianism, with its sturdy characteristics, has taken root.
As compared with Scotland, English Presbyterianism had more of the lay element.
An opponent of church government in any form, he was no friend to the rigid and tyrannical Presbyterianism of the day, and inclined to Independency and Cromwell's party.
For the promulgation of these views, which were confessedly at variance with the doctrines of the standards of the national church of Scotland, he was summoned (1726) before his presbytery, where in the course of the investigations which followed he affirmed still more explicitly his belief that "every national church established by the laws of earthly kingdoms is antichristian in its constitution and persecuting in its spirit," and further declared opinions upon the subject of church government which amounted to a repudiation of Presbyterianism and an acceptance of the puritan type of Independency.
In the Presbyterian churches a synod is an assembly containing representatives of several presbyteries and intermediate between these and the General Assembly; similarly in the Wesleyan and other Methodist churches the synod is the meeting of the district which links the circuits with the conference.
Episcopatus, the office of a bishop, episcopus), the general term technically applied to that system of church organization in which the chief ecclesiastical authority within a defined district, or diocese, is vested in a bishop. As such it is distinguished on the one hand from Presbyterianism, government by elders, and Congregationalism, in which the individual church or community of worshippers is autonomous, and on the other from Papalism.
The Church of England since the Reformation has been the chief champion of the principle of Episcopacy against the papal pretensions on the one hand and Presbyterianism and Congregationalism on the other.
But the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at Edinburgh is now the public manifestation of the predominance of Presbyterianism as the national church.
He failed, because Charles could not even then consent to abandon the bishops, and because no Scottish party of any weight could be formed unless Presbyterianism were established ecclesiastically.
He published in 1911 The Rise and Development of Presbyterianism in Scotland.
The contention brought to a crisis the struggle between the moderate Presbyterians and the Scots on the one side, who decided to maintain the monarchy and fought for an accommodation and to establish Presbyterianism in England, and on the other the republicans who would be satisfied with nothing less than the complete overthrow of the king, and the Independents who regarded the establishment of Presbyterianism as an evil almost as great as that of the Church of England.
On the 25th of November Cromwell charged Manchester with "unwillingness to have the war prosecuted to a full victory"; which Manchester answered by accusing Cromwell of having used expressions against the nobility, the Scots and Presbyterianism; of desiring to fill the army of the Eastern Association with Independents to prevent any accommodation; and of having vowed if he met the king in battle he would as lief fire his pistol at him as at anybody else.
The war being now over, the great question of the establishment of Presbyterianism or Independency had to be decided.