The scriptural form of Church government, which is that of Presbytery, is comprehended under five heads, namely: 1. The Church; 2. Its Members; 3. Its Officers; 4. Its Courts; and 5. Its Orders.
The Church which the Lord Jesus Christ has erected in this world for the gathering and perfecting of the saints, is His visible kingdom of grace, and is one and the same in all ages.
The members of this visible Church catholic are all those persons in every nation who make profession of their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and promise submission to His laws. Communing members are those who have made a profession of faith in Christ, have been baptized, and have been admitted by the Session to the Lord’s Table. The children of communing members are, through the covenant and by right of birth, non-communing members of the church. The children of communing members holding credo-baptistic convictions are non-communing members in the sense that they are entitled to the church’s care, love, discipline, and training, with a view to their embracing Christ and thus possessing personally all the benefits of the covenant. The children of communing members holding paedo-baptistic convictions are non-communing members in the sense that they are entitled to baptism and to the church’s care, love, discipline, and training, with a view to their embracing Christ and thus possessing personally all the benefits of the covenant.
The officers of the Church, by whom all its powers are administered, are, according to the Scriptures, Ministers of the Word, Ruling Elders, and Deacons.
Ecclesiastical jurisdiction is not a several, but a joint power, to be exercised by Presbyters in courts. These courts may have jurisdiction over one or many churches, but they sustain such mutual relations as to realize the idea of the unity of the Church.
The ordination of officers is ordinarily by a court.
This scriptural doctrine of Presbytery is necessary to the perfection of the order of the visible Church, but is not essential to its existence.