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tist persuasion. Was that a regularly constituted Presbyterian church? I cannot consider any congregation organized as regularly Presbyterian, unless constituted according to the principles of that form of government adopted by an act of the General Assembly of the Kirk of Scotland, on the 10th day of February, 1645. I am not saying that Presbyterianism originated in Scotland ; so far from that, I hold that it is older than the circumcision of Timothy; or the conversion of the Apostle Paul. But the Kirk of Scotland, so far as human arrangement is concerned, is certainly the mother of the Irish and American churches, and to be a Presbyterian church, her principles of government must be adopted. The officers of the church contemplated by that form of government, are pastors or teachers presbyterially ordained, and ruling elders, and its members consist of believers and their children. Was that the character of the congregation organized in the bosom of Philadelphia in 1698? Is that a regularly constituted Presbyterian church whose pastor denies that the covenant promises of God are to our children, and who refuses to sprinkle them with the baptismal water? Who can believe, that the association of Presbyterians and Congregationalists who constituted what has been called “the first Presbyterian church," elected ruling elders and deacons, or if they did so, that the gentleman who preached for them, would have ordained those officers ? A “regularly constituted Presbyterian church” exeluding infants from its pale,, without ruling elders, or dea
cons, and having for its pastor a minister from a different branch of the christian church, and who must have been anti-presbyterian both as to doctrine and church government! I am aware, that the Rev. Mr. Andrews took charge of the church in Philadelphia in 1701. He, I believe, was a Congregationalist. I think that the will of Mr. Makemie shows, that he died in doubt whether the congregation now denominated “the first church” in Philadelphia, would be Presbyterian or Independent in its government. His will says, in relation to it:—" I give and bequeath said library to such minister, or ministers as shall succeed him [Rev. Mr. Andrews,] and to such only as shall be of the Presbyterian or Independent persuasion, and none else."* Compare with the above extract the following language used in relation to the church at Rehobeth :-“I order and empower my executrix afterwards nominated and appointed, to sell, dispose of, and alien
also my lot joining to the new meeting-house lot in Pocomoke town, called Rehobeth, empowering my executrix afterwards named, to make over and alienate, that lot on which the meeting-house is built, in as ample manner to all intents and
purposes, be required for the ends and uses of a Presbyterian congregation, as if I were personally present, and to their successors for ever, and to none else but to such
* See Appendix A.
of the same persuasion in matters of religion.” As to the church in Philadelphia, he was willing it should enjoy his liberality, whether it assumed decidedly the Presbyterian or the Independent form of government: about the church at Rehobeth, which he had planted, watered and endowed, he felt no such uncertainty, and therefore he permits no option as to the religious name of the persons who should be benefited by the devise.
I may be told of the strong resemblance which exists between the Presbyterian and Congregational churches. I may be in error, but popular blindness upon this subject astonishes me. I wish no sounder Calvinism than I find in the articles of religion of the Episcopal church; and as to government, principles equally important, broad and distinctive, separate: Presbyterianism from Episcopacy and Independency. But I have fatigued myself, and am fearful that you may complain of the length of this letter, in which I designed to conclude the subject. Will you permit me to resume it in my next?
The subject continued.
What I regard as the great beauties in our form of government is, the parity of the ministry, and the constitution and powers of “the presbytery;" and what I consider our radical defect in the constitution of the Presbyterian church in the United States of America, adopted in 1789, is the attempt by presbyteries to delegate to other ecclesiastical bodies, powers derived immediately from the Great Head of the church, wbich in their nature are intransmissible, and to which a maxim borrowed from the civil law, applies with all its force, Potestas delegata non delegari potest. Can any one doubt the absolute power of a church session over its own pulpit in despite of the presbytery? On this subject the constitution is plain and consistent, and the responsibility of protecting particular congregations, from the errors of transient and heretical teachers, is thrown upon their spiritual overseers. If I am not a layman* (and according to the doctrines of Dr. Miller I am not one,)
He refers to the office of ruling elder, which he sustained in the church at Snowhill.
yet about these matters I claim the same degree of indulgence, and ask that this error in opinion, if it be one, may be excused. I almost regret that I have found any fault with the constitution of the church, but the train of thought was suggested by the difference between the first Presbyterian church in Philadelphia in its early days, and a regularly constituted Presbyterian church.
The fact that Mr. Andrews was a member of the first presbytery organized in the colonies, affords no proof that either he or his people were Presbyterian in their predilections. If there were not more than a half dozen Presbyterian and Independent ministers between the southern boundary of New York and Terra del Fuego, I think they would all willing. ly meet in an ecclesiastical court, whether called classis, council, convention, conference, association, consociation, or presbytery.
But I think the latter extract from the will of Mr. Makemie, in my last letter, raises a doubt whether the meeting-house referred to, was not a second church edifice erected upon, or near the same site. He says, “the new meeting-house.” Now, so far as I am advised, it is, and has been unusual to qualify the term church, or meeting-house, by the word ner, but by the party name of the christian society for whose use it is erected ; but the practice is, and has been universal, so to describe the house when the same congregation had occupied an older one. I have the records of a church session at hand, by whose procurement three churches were