Francis Ramsay's Exposition of the Form of Government and the Rules of Discipline (1898) is just that - an exposition, or explanation, or what the Southern Presbyterian Church's Book of Church Order stated at the current time. Yet Ramsay's book remains relevant in 2017 to the ecclesiastical descendants of the PCUS, because many portions of current Books of Church Order are found in the book Ramsey expounded.
Why understand the BCO better? Ramsay explains:
"But the writer has concluded his exposition with a deep conviction that the more our standards are studied the less disposition there will be to criticize them. For it may be conceded that our system of government is one that works with much friction and confusion, and, it must be admitted, with considerable inefficiency, if those who work it do not understand it and intelligently approve it; for there are other systems that work more easily and satisfactorily in the hands of adherents not generally intelligent and capable. All we can claim is that the members and officers of any church need to know its system of government well enough, and to love it well enough, to work it efficiently, and that for those thus qualified ours is the best system, even among the different systems that are scriptural in their main principles. To promote the study of our standards of order, and thereby a devotion to them and a working knowledge of them, is the end of this effort."
The next time you have a question about your BCO, open up Ramsay.