McGill's Church Government and Peck's Notes on Ecclesiology

Log College Press exists in part to preserve a digital archive of American Presbyterian works from the 18th and 19th century, and to propagate the knowledge of these works to the general public. These works have generally been forgotten by 21st century Presbyterians, and it is our hope that just as Puritan literature has enjoyed a revival over the past sixty years through Banner of Truth and other publishers, so Log College Press might serve to restore knowledge of the Presbyterian fathers from America.

To that end, if you are interested in studying the topic of Ecclesiology, I commend to you two works written toward the end of the 19th century, one by a Northerner, and one by a Southerner. A book we have highlighted previously, Alexander Taggert McGill's Church Government (written in 1888), compiled the lectures on the topic he gave at Princeton Theological Seminary. McGill had been called in 1854 to become the Professor of Pastoral Theology, Church Government, and Homiletics, and held this position for over forty years. Soon after McGill's book was published, Thomas Ephraim Peck wrote Notes on Ecclesiology (1892). McGill's book is much longer than Peck's (560 pages as compared to 212), and while both traverse similar terrain in the topic, Peck includes sections on church power and the relationship between the church and the state (specifically, church power as contrasted with civil power) that make his volume unique in its presentation. Both books are worth the time and effort spent to work through them. 

Two "New" 19th Century Presbyterian Works on Ecclesiology Added to Log College Press

We are pleased to note that two additional works on Presbyterian eccclesiology have been recently added to Log College Press.

The first is by Alexander Taggart McGill (1807-1889): Church Government: A Treatise (1888), the product of four decades of seminary lectures on the major points of church government as affirmed by a 19th century Princeton Presbyterian (he taught at Columbia Seminary in South Carolina; served as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government at Western Theological Seminary (now Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) in Allegheny, Pennsylvania; and as Professor of Pastoral Theology at Princeton Seminary). There is a wealth of material here to digest for those interested in studying Presbyterian church government. 

And second, Samuel Miles Hopkins, II (1813-1901), Manual of Church Polity (1878). He served as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Polity at Auburn Theological Seminary. This too, is a volume rich in insights as to the workings of Presbyterian church government. Both of these works have much to say about the officers of the church, with discussion about many of the historical controversies that were the talk of the Presbyterian church in the late 19th century, including the role of ruling elders, the place of women in the church, innovations in worship, and more. 

Both of these men, incidentally, "collaborated" (along with Samuel Jennings Wilson (1828-1883)) in a work that appeared posthumously titled A Short History of American Presbyterianism From Its Foundations to the Reunion of 1869 (1903). 

Take time to read the table of contents of these works, and download them for further study. They represent a window into the study of church polity of late 19th century American Presbyterianism.