Lectures On Church Government. -- By: Leonard Woods

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 001:3 (Aug 1844)
Article: Lectures On Church Government.
Author: Leonard Woods

Lectures On Church Government.

Leonard Woods, D. D.

Lectures on Church Government, containing objections to the Episcopal Scheme, delivered in the Theological Seminary, Andover, August, 1843.

Professor of Christian Theology. New York: Published by Turner and Hayden, 1844. pp. 198.

We have heard it remarked that if this book had appeared ten years ago, much evil might have been prevented. This is said

by those who feel that the instruction at Andover, in times past, on the subject of church government, has not been so decidedly in favor of Congregationalism as could have been desired. There is reason to doubt, it is said, whether the distinguished Professor in this department could, with a clear conscience, have declared that in his view Congregationalism is preferable to every other form of church government. This, it is thought, is greatly to be regretted, on some accounts; for we as Congregationalists, of course, wish to have our case made out and fortified in the best manner.

We apprehend that the state of the Professors opinions hitherto, on this subject, was in accordance with an extremely liberal and almost loose way of thinking and speaking about church government, as though the form of it were a mere matter of taste, and that accidents might be safely trusted to determine, for each student in divinity, under what form of church polity he should live and labor. We have heard anecdotes of conversations in the lecture-room indicating, that the students at Andover in former days were greatly puzzled to know whether they ought to prefer Presbyterianism, Massachusetts Congregationalism, Connecticut Consociationism, or Episcopacy. Very little help did they get from their instructor in their state of suspended choice, except that the fact that he did not declare boldly for Congregationalism shed disastrous twilight upon the minds of most of the Congregational students. In fact, we believe that the Professor had the credit of preferring Presbyterianism to every other form of church government. This was a trial to those who thought that the instruction at the seminary ought to be decidedly in favor of the Congregational scheme.

But it all happened very well. A large proportion of the students of that seminary have had their lot cast within the bounds of the Presbyterian church, and it has been for the peace of the church, and it has promoted their own ministerial usefulness, that they did not go from the seminary into Presbyterian regions, surcharged with sectarian Congregationalism. The Western States were their chosen field of labor, independently of any love for a particular form of church government above another. Had these students go...

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