Church (or Ecclesiastical) Government



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Church (or Ecclesiastical) Government


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The Covenanted Reformation Defended Against Contemporary Schismatics by Greg Barrow (Greg Price, Dr. Reg Barrow and Larry Birger) A modern classic defending divine right Presbyterianism, the attainments of the second Reformation, the Westminster standards and the Solemn League and Covenant! This book, of over 300 [8.5" X 11"] pages, is also offered as a cerlox bound photocopy [$14.98 US funds] or a Hardcover photocopy [$25.00 US funds].)

Biblical Church Government by Kevin Reed (Covers the basic principles of Presbyterian church government: (1.) scriptural church officers, (2.) church courts, (3.) confessional standards, and (4.) church membership. Second (expanded) edition. "This is the best short statement [of Presbyterian principles of church government] we have ever seen," noted the Banner of Truth magazine.)

Divine Right of Church Government by Sundry Ministers Of Christ Within The City Of London (offsite)

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland by George Gillespie

The Visible Church: Essence Versus Lawful Form by Larry Birger, Jr. (Discusses Calvin's and the Westminster Confession's view of the visible church, exhibiting the vital distinction between that which is necessary to the being of the visible church and that which is necessary for the well-being of the visible church. Clearly exposes the erroneous notion that the government of the church equals the church. Calvin listed this as a fundamental difference between Protestants and Papists, indicating that the multitude of churches in our current apostasy are (as to their form or constitution) daughters of the Roman Catholic whore (Rev. 17:5). Because they have not followed in the footsteps of the flock (Song 1:8), but instead are walking in the adulterous ways of their (constitutional) mother, these churches are schismatic. Birger concludes with 13 Scripture commands to separate from such denominations who themselves have separated from the company of the faithful.)

International Covenanted Reformation or Schism? (A Reply to Doug Wilson) by Dr. Reg Barrow

Of Uniformity In Religion, Worship of God, and Church Government by George Gillespie

Apostolic Presbyterianism by William Cunningham and Dr. Reg Barrow (Shows from Scripture how the Apostles practiced the divine right of Presbyterianism)

Proof That the Church is Often Obscured by Francis Turretin (Proves from Scripture that, throughout much of history, the church [visible and constitutional], is often found only in a very small remnant.)

Communion Catechism (1592) by John Craig "John Craig (1512-1600) was a Scottish reformer. Previously a Dominican Friar, Craig was converted to the Protestant Faith. The Roman Inquisition condemned Craig to death, yet he escaped and returned to Scotland. In 1560, Craig became co-pastor with John Knox in Edinburgh. Later, Craig became a chaplain to James VI. At the direction of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Craig composed this catechism, which was subsequently approved by the Assembly in 1592" (Kevin Reed).

The Decline of American Presbyterianism (A Book Review of Gary North's Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church) by Kevin Reed ("Last year, the present writer reviewed volume 1 of David Calhoun's history of Princeton Seminary. The first volume of Calhoun's narrative ended at a pivotal point in the history of Northern Presbyterianism: the reunion of the Old School and New School Assemblies in 1869. Realizing that a significant part of Princeton's story (as well as the story of the Northern Presbyterianism) was yet to be told, I eagerly took up volume two of Calhoun's narrative, shortly after the book was published. Unfortunately, the second volume, The Majestic Testimony, is a major disappointment. Readers who want to know what happened after 1869, in order to gain an understanding of the demise of Princeton (and Northern Presbyterianism) will require additional sources beyond Calhoun's second volume. Therefore, we are presenting readers with a combined book review, in which we will also draw attention to another important work, Gary North's Crossed Fingers: How the Liberals Captured the Presbyterian Church," notes Reed.)

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Calvin, Close Communion and the Coming Reformation (a book review of Alexander and Rufus... by John Anderson [1862]) by Reg Barrow (Shows how Calvin practiced close communion and how the biblical view of this ordinance is intended to purify the individual, church and state. Refutes the Popish and paedocommunion heresies [regarding this sacrament], as well as all views of open communion. Also argues that Arminians, anti-paedobaptists, anti-regulativists, and all those who openly violate the law of God [and are unrepentant] should be barred from the Lord's table -- as a corrective measure ordained of God for their recovery.)

Corporate Sanctification: Holding Fast the Attainments of Reformation by John Brown (of Wamphray; Samuel Rutherford's Disciple) (An overview of the Covenanter doctrine of reformation attainments by one of the great Covenanter theologians. Helpful in dispelling false charges of Anabaptism and perfectionism laid at the feet of faithful Covenanters.)

Presbyterian Government in Extraordinary Times by Kevin Reed

What Is A Moral Person? How God Views the Church and the Nations by David Scott, John Cunningham, and George Smeaton (A clear and concise summary of the biblical doctrine of the moral person; i.e. that God regards churches and nations as moral entities separate from the individual members of which they are composed. No Christian can afford not to understand this vital teaching! In many ways this is a crux of the Covenanter position, underlying as it does upon the issues of separation, civil government, the Covenants, eschatology, etc.)

Saul in the Cave of Adullam: A Testimony Against the Fashionable Sub-Calvinism of Doug Wilson (Editor of Credenda/Agenda Magazine); and, for Classical Protestantism and the Attainments of the Second Reformation by Dr. Reg Barrow

Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting from the Revolution Church of Scotland. Also, Their Principles Concerning Civil Government, and the Difference Betwixt the Reformation and Revolution Principles (1731) by Andrew Clarkson (In this file you will find the complete table of contents, the preface and the first reason for dissent. Lord willing, other sections will follow in time. The table of contents is very valuable as it lays out in summary [and with a fair amount of detail] the whole scope of the book. It can serve as a kind of summary of second Reformation thought concerning the church, state, separation, schism, worship, civil dissent, church planting, opposition to idolatry and tyranny, and much more!)

Wholesome Severity Reconciled With Christian Liberty; or, the True Resolution of a Present Controversy Concerning Liberty of Conscience by George Gillespie (1644)

An Able & Faithful Ministry by Samuel Miller

The Ruling Elder by Samuel Miller

The Necessity of Reforming the Church (1543) by John Calvin

The Solemn League and Covenant by Alexander Henderson and others

The Six Points of the "Terms of Ministerial and Christian Communion in the Reformed Presbyterian Church by the Reformed Presbytery

The Scottish Confession of Faith (1560)

The First & Second Books of Discipline

Geneva Book of Church Order (1556)

The Order of Excommunication and Public Repentance adopted by the Church of Scotland in 1569

Paleopresbyterianism Versus Neopresbyterianism by Dr. Michael Wagner

The Unity of the Church by Thomas M'Crie

A Brotherly Testimony Against the Use of Instrumental Accompaniment In Public Worship by Dr. Larry Birger


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88 Free MP3s on Church and Civil Government

Presbyterian Church Government (more free MP3s)

Covenanter Terms of Communion 8 of 19: Presbyterian Worship and Government 1/2 by Greg Price

Covenanter Terms of Communion 9 of 19: Presbyterian Worship and Government 2/2 by Greg Price

DEBATE on the Meaning of the Church in Reformation Thought (Greg Barrow Vs. Richard Bacon)

Church Government in the Bible: Does Scripture Teach Presbyterianism, Prelacy, Popery, or Independency? By William Cunningham

Calvin, Covenanting, Close Communion & the Coming Reformation: Book Review of Alexander & Rufus/Dialogues on Church Communion by Dr. Reg Barrow

Of Uniformity In Religion, Worship of God, and Church Government by George Gillespie

DEBATE: Protestant Antidote to Modern Disunity (1/5) Protestant Fundamentals of Separation and Unity (Greg Barrow Versus Richard Bacon, 5 MP3s)

The Divine Right of Presbyterian Church Government (Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici) #1

Divine Right of a Form of Church Government (Historical Theology Vol. 1, #4) by William Cunningham

Presbyterianism and the Preservation of the Church by Greg Price

John Owen Represbyterianized 1 of 2 - How John Owen Went From Presbyterianism To Independency And Back To Presbyterianism Again by Dr. Francis Nigel Lee (free MP3)

John Owen Represbyterianized 2 of 2 - How John Owen Went From Presbyterianism To Independency And Back To Presbyterianism Again by Dr. Francis Nigel Lee (free MP3)

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The Church In Its Relation to the State (The Church of Christ Vol. 1, #5) by James Bannerman

Biblical Principles for Separating From Backsliding Churches; Or, Separation & Schism by Dr. Michael Wagner

Authority of Church Officers and Church Courts (Historical Theology Vol. 1, #3) by William Cunningham

Separation, Occasional Hearing and Marriages by Greg Barrow

Occasional Hearing and Church Discipline 1 of 2 (1841) by Associate Session Xenia, Ohio

Occasional Hearing and Church Discipline 2 of 2 (1841) by Associate Session Xenia, Ohio

Presbyterianism is Biblical Church Government (Historical Theology Vol. 2, #24) by William Cunningham

DEBATE: How the Solemn League & Covenant Binds the USA, Canada, Australia, etc., Today (Greg Barrow Versus Richard Bacon, 3 MP3s)

Offences & Biblical Church Discipline 1 of 2 (How To Approach A Brother To Tell Him His Fault) by Greg Barrow

Offences & Biblical Church Discipline 2 of 2 (How To Approach A Brother To Tell Him His Fault) by Greg Barrow

An Informatory Vindication of a Poor Wasted Misrepresented Remnant Of Covenanters #1 by James Renwick

God's Law & the Church (Why & How the Ten Commandments Apply To the Church, the Nations, the Family and Individuals) by Dr. F. N. Lee


Puritan & Reformed Worship, Puritan Church & Civil Government (Joel Beeke & Puritans)


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"I know also that a government and discipline in the church (the thing which I now undertake to plead for) is a very displeasing thing to those that would fain enjoy liberty, either of pernicious errors or gross profaneness." - George Gillespie, Aaron's Rod Blossoming; or, the Divine Ordinance of Church Government Vindicated. (1646).

James Melville's A Short Relation of the State of the Kirk of Scotland since the Reformation of Religion, to the present time for information, and advertisement to our Brethren in the Kirk of England.

The Form of Presbyterial Church-Government and of Ordination of Ministers; Agreed Upon by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, with the Assistance of Commissioners from the Church of Scotland, as a part of the Covenanted Uniformity in Religion Betwixt the Churches of Christ in the Kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland.

George Gillespie on That the Ministry is a Perpetual Ordinance of Christ in the Church, and that Ministers are to be Received as the Ambassadors of Christ Now as Well as in the Primitive Times.

George Gillespie on Of the Election of Pastors with the Congregation's Consent.

Robert Traill's Sermon on "By What Means Ministers May Best Win Souls."

James Fraser's (of Brae) Sermon on Prelacy An Idol and Prelates Idolaters.

John Fairley's Ordination Sermon Treasure in Earthen Vessels.

John Anderson's Sermon Against Occasional Hearing on Proverbs 19:27.

Alexander McLeod's Book The Ecclesiastical Catechism; Being A Series of Questions Relative to the Christian Church, Stated and Answered, With the Scripture Proofs.

Alexander McLeod's Sermon at Gilbert McMaster's Ordination on The Constitution, Character and Duties of the Gospel Ministry.

James M. Willson's Pamphlet on The Deacon.

An Article from the Covenanter Magazine on Occasional Hearing.

J.W. Shaw's Sermon on Attachment to Zion.

John T. Pressly's Book An Inquiry into the Principles of Church Fellowship.

John L. Girardeau's Sermon on the Discretionary Power of the Church.

James Kerr's Lecture on The Attainments of the Church of the Second Reformation.

James Kerr's Lecture on The Church Crisis in Scotland.

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Ecclesiastical Government

Church Government at

Presbyterian Church Government:

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland. By George Gillespie.

The First and Second Books of Discipline: David Calderwood's Edition of 1621.

Terms of Communion: The Authority of the Books of Discipline within the R.P. Churches. By J.B. Johnston.

The Ministerial Office:

The Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. A Sermon by John Fairley.

Ordination Sermon: We are Labourers together with God. By Thomas Nairn

The Faithful & Wise Servant; or The Authority, Character, & Work of a Gospel Minister, in the Church of Christ, opened up. By John M'Millan II.

The Ministry a Perpetual Ordinance of Christ. Chapter 1 from George Gillespie's Miscellany Questions.

Concerning the Right of Prophesying. Chapter 8 from Robert Baillie's Dissuasive from Errours.

A Humble Acknowledgment of the Sins of the Ministry of Scotland. By James Guthrie.

A Sermon on 1 Timothy 3:1-4, concerning the qualifications for Shepherds in the Church, wherein is discovered the difference between the Popish Clergy with their wicked Hierarchy, and the true Church of Jesus Christ with the faithful ministers thereof. By John Calvin.

On the Calling of Ecclesiastical Officers:

Of the Election of Pastors with the Congregation's Consent. Chapter 2 excerpted from George Gillespie's Miscellany Questions.

Concerning a Calling to the Ministry, and Clearness therein. Excerpted from James Durham's Lectures on Revelation.

Whether Ordination be essential to the calling of a Minister. Chapter 3 excerpted from George Gillespie's Miscellany Questions.

Objections against the necessity of Ordination answered. Chapter 4 excerpted from George Gillespie's Miscellany Questions.

An Ordinance of Parliament for the Ordination of Ministers pro Tempore, according to the Directory for Ordination, 1644.

Ruling Elders:

A Treatise of Ruling Elders and Deacons. By James Guthrie.

The Form and Order of the Admission of Elders, as done by Mr. James Renwick.

The Duties of Ruling Elders and the People over whom they are Appointed Overseers. By Thomas Boston.

An Assertion of the Government of the Church of Scotland: Part 1: Concerning Ruling Elders. By George Gillespie.

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A Treatise of Ruling Elders and Deacons. By James Guthrie.

Terms of Communion: A Defence of the Deacon's Office & Responsibilities. By J.B. Johnston.

The Marks of the True Catholic Church:

The Marks of the True Catholic Church: An Answer to a Jesuit. By John Knox.

Marks of the True Church. From The Original Covenanter.

Ecclesiastical Assemblies:

The Westminster Assembly. From The Original Covenanter.

The Nature & Benefits of Church Membership:

Church Membership. From The Contending Witness

Biblical Principles of Ecclesiastical Dissent & Separation:

The Informatory Vindication of the True Presbyterian Church of Scotland: Head 4

Plain Reasons for Presbyterians Dissenting: A Summary Article from The Contending Witness

The Reasons of Mr. Alexander Craighead's receding from the present Judicatures of this Church, (early PCUSA,) together with its Constitution, 1743.

A Short Account of Mr. Thomas Nairn, Minister of the Gospel in Linktoun... his Secession from the Associate Presbytery; with the Grounds and Reasons, 1743.

Occasional Hearing from The Reformed Presbyterian, 1839.

The Duty of Separation by John McAuley from The Original Covenanter

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Ecclesiastical Association & Terms of Communion:

A Modest Reply to a Pamphlet, entitled A Letter from a Friend to Mr. John McMillan, 1710. (Early Defence of R.P. Principles & Terms of Communion.)

Terms of Communion From The Contending Witness.

Introduction & Appendix to the Auchensaugh Renovation by Thomas Henderson.

Remarks on a Letter... by Adam Brown, (Concerning the Auchensaugh Renovation) by John Dow.

Against Anti-Scriptural forms of Church Government:

The Bishop's Doom. A Sermon by Alexander Henderson on the occasion of the Excommunication of several bishops from the Church of Scotland.

From whence essentially is the calling of a Pastor? Against Independency; Excerpted from Samuel Rutherford's Peaceable Plea for Paul's Presbytery.

Of the Power and Primacy of the Pope. Against the Papacy and the Tyranny of the Roman Heirarchy; Compiled by the Lutheran Theologians Assembled at Smalcald, in the Year 1537.

Whether the power of Ecclesiastick Jurisdiction belongs to the People or to the Presbytery. Chapter 9 from Robert Baillie's Dissuasive from Errours.

A Letter from the Synod of Zeeland expressing their desire for uniformity in Kirk-Government in Scotland, England, & Ireland, and their joy in the overthrow of the intolerable tyranny of Episcopal government, 1643.

Against Ecclesiastical Tyranny:

A Protestation, Declinature, & Appeal, given to the Commission of the General Assembly, 1708, by John McMillan & John McNeil.

A Vindication of the Ministerial Mission & Authority of John McMillan I by John McMillan II.

The Vindication of Mr. James Gilchrist, Minister of the Gospel at Dunscore, by A Dissenting Presbytery of the Church of Scotland.

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The Divine Right of Church Government (Jus Divinum Regiminis Ecclesiastici), Wherein it is Proved that the Presbyterian Government, By Preaching and Ruling Elders, in Sessional, Presbyterial, and Synodical Assemblies, May Lay the Only Lawful Claim to a Divine Right, According to the Holy Scriptures, c. 1646, 1844 ed.
This is one of the all time classic defenses of the divine right of Presbyterianism. It also gives us a clear picture of the original intent of the English Presbyterians working at the Westminster Assembly (and is therefore very useful in determining the original intent of the Westminster Confession itself). It can be seen here that it was the strong conviction of the majority of English divines at Westminster that Presbyterianism is the only form of church government that is instituted by God in His Word. David Hall, (the editor of the Nap. Press edition), states, the book "was not written as a polemical tract, as if to prop up some moribund tradition; rather it is an exemplar of gentle and reasoned discourse." Published anonymously, during the sitting of the Westminster Assembly, because of the Erastian leaning Parliament's "gag rule," this work is considered by some as "an even truer record of the Westminster divines' views of government than the final (politically suppressed) standards" (Coldwell, Naphtali Press edition). Moreover, Hall goes so far as to state that "perhaps no single work is as illuminating for original intent [of the Westminster Standards] as this rare work printed contemporaneously with the meeting of the Assembly;" and that "acquaintance with the political and ecclesiastical events of the time narrows down the possible authorship of this (book, RB) to either (the) Westminster divines themselves, or sympathizers of the Westminster Assembly of divines (p. xvi). Hall also notes that Hetherington (in his masterful History of the Westminster Assembly, p. 270) asserts that this book was the Westminster divine's answer to the English parliament's "nine queries" that were intended "to discourage their thoroughly Presbyterian views." Hall continues, "In the first comprehensive Scottish history of the Assembly, William Hetherington concludes safely: 'Judging from internal evidence, in matter, manner, and style, it appears most certain that this work at least embodies the substance of the answer prepared by the Assembly, somewhat enlarged and modified by the city ministers in whose name it was published.' Although Hetherington (who in a footnote wished for the reprinting of this very work as 'a very valuable contribution to the Presbyterian cause in the present day') initially infers that the work of the Assembly and the London ministers was merged, such that 'so much of the one was transfused into the other as to render then to all practical intents one work,' at the conclusion of his history he concludes with more certainty: "The Jus Divinum of the city ministers appears to me to be both virtually and substantially the Assembly's Answer to the Parliament, containing actually that very Answer as prepared by them; but with such additional amplifications in statement and illustrations, by the city ministers themselves, as might both render it more complete and fit for publication as a distinct work on the subject, and at the same time entitle them to publish it on their own responsibility'" (Hall, pp. xviii-xix, citing Hetherington, History of the Westminster Assembly pp. 270, 362). Furthermore, "not only do we have confirmation from numerous sources that the 2 December 1646 Jus Divinum reflects the Assembly's original intent, we also see along with that the undisputable historical notation that the Assembly considered itself bound by a jus divnum, not merely 'guided' by a nebulous jus hamanum. The difference is cataclysmic" (Hall, p. xxii). Moreover, in The Divine Right of the Gospel Ministry these same authors later give us a glimpse of how different their jus divinum presbyterianism is from much of what "presbyterians" today believe. "So strongly were they committed to this thorough-going jus divinum view that they stated the following 'four things that justly deserve to be abhorred by all good Christians: (1) An Universal Toleration of all Religions; (2) An Universal Admittance of all men to the Lord's Supper; (3) Universal Grace, that is, that Christ died equally for all, and that all men have free-will to be saved; and (4) Universal Allowance of all that suppose themselves gifted to preach without Ordination" (Hall, p. xxi). Moreover, Hall goes so far as to state that "perhaps no single work is as illuminating for original intent [of the Westminster Standards] as this rare work printed contemporaneously with the meeting of the Assembly." This photocopy edition contains the appendix which sets forth "Extracts from some of the best authors who have written on church government, concerning the scriptural qualifications and duties of church members; the sole right of gospel ministers to preach the gospel; the people's divine right to choose their own pastors; together with an abstract of the arguments of the great Dr. Owen (though a professed Independent) in favour of the Divine right of the office of the ruling elder." This edition also includes a preface, "The Editor to the Reader," written by the Cameronian "T.H" (Thomas Henderson) -- an Irish Reformed Presbyterian who was also the author to the forward of James Douglas' Strictures on Occasional Hearing. Henderson recommends this volume as "one of the best defences of presbytery which he has ever seen."
(Rare bound photocopy) 99.94-90%=9.99
(Hardcover photocopy) $29.00 (US funds)

Divine Right of Church Government by Sundry Ministers Of Christ Within The City Of London Digital Download (

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