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(properly זָקֵן, zaken'; πρεσβύτερος, a term which is plainly the origin of our word "priest;" Saxon preoster and presfe, then priest, High and Low Dutch priester, French prestre and pretre, Ital. prete, Span. presbytero), literally, one of the older men; and because, in ancient times, older persons would naturally be selected to 'hold public offices, out of regard to their presumed superiority in knowledge and experience, the term came to be used as the designation for the office itself, borne by an individual of whatever age. (See Gesenius, Hebrews Lex. s.v.) Such is the origin of the words γερουσία (a council of elders), senatus, alderman, etc.

I. In the O.T. The term elder was one of extensive use, as an official title, among the Hebrews and the surrounding nations. It applied to various offices; Eliezer, for instance, is described as the "old man of the house," i.e., the major-domo (Genesis 24:2); the officers of Pharaoh's household (Genesis 1:1-31; Genesis 7:1-24), and, at a later period, David's head servants (2 Samuel 12:17) were so termed; while in Ezekiel 27:9 the "old men of Gebal" are the master-workmen. But the term "elder" appears to be also expressive of respect and reverence in general, as signore, seigneur, seseor, etc. The word occurs in this sense in Genesis 1:7, "Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt" (Sept. πρεσβύτεροι, Vulg. senes). These elders of Egypt were probably the various state officers. As betokening a political office, it applied not only to the Hebrews and Egyptians, but also to the Moabites and Midianites (Numbers 22:7). The elders of Israel, of whom such frequent mention is made, may have been, in early times, the lineal descendants of the patriarchs (Exodus 12:21). To the elders Moses was directed to open his commission (Exodus 3:16 . They accompanied Moses in his first interview with Pharaoh, as the representatives of the Hebrew nation (Exodus 3:18); through them Moses issued his communications and commands to the whole people (Exodus 19:7; Deuteronomy 31:9); they were his immediate attendants in all great transactions in the wilderness (Exodus 17:5); seventy of their number were selected to attend Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, at the giving of the law (Exodus 24:1), on which occasion they are called the nobles (אֲצַילַים, lit. deep-rooted. i.e., of high-born stock; Sept. ἐπίλεκτοι ) of the children of Israel, who did eat and drink before God, in ratification of the covenant, as representatives of the nation (Exodus 24:11). In Numbers 11:16-17, we meet with the appointment of seventy elders to bear the burden of the people along with Moses; these were selected by Moses out of the whole number of the elders, and are described as being already officers over the children of Israel. It is the opinion of Michaelis that this council chosen to assist Moses should not be confounded with the Sanhedrim, which, he thinks, was not instituted till after the return from the Babylonish captivity. (See SANHEDRIM).

He observes that these seventy elders were not chosen to be judges of the people, who had already more than 60,000 judges. He also argues that the election of seventy additional judges would have done but little towards suppressing the rebellion which led Moses to adopt this proceeding; but that it seems more likely to have been his intention to form a supreme senate to take a share in the government, consisting of the most respectable persons, either for family or merit, which would materially support his power and influence among the people in general; would unite large and powerful families, and give an air of aristocracy to his government, which had hitherto been deemed too monarchical. He further infers that this council was not permanent, not being once alluded to from the death of Moses till the Babylonish captivity; that Moses did not fill up the vacancies occasioned by deaths, and that it ceased altogether in the wilderness. Wherever a patriarchal system is in force, the office of the elder will be found as the keystone of the social and political fabric; it is so at the present day among the Arabs, where the sheik (=the old man) is the highest authority in the tribe. That the title originally had reference to age is obvious; and age was naturally a concomitant of the office at all periods (Joshua 24:31; 1 Kings 12:6), even when the term had acquired its secondary sense. At what period the transition occurred, in other words, when the word elder acquired an official signification, it is impossible to say. The earliest notice of the elders acting in concert as a political body is at the time of the Exodus. We need not assume that the order was then called into existence, but rather that Moses availed himself of an institution already existing and recognised by his countrymen, and that, in short, "the elders of Israel" (Exodus 3:16; Exodus 4:29) had been the senate (Sept. γερουσία ) of the people ever since they had become a people. The position which the elders held in the Mosaic constitution, and more particularly in relation to the people, is described under CONGREGATION (See CONGREGATION).

They were the representatives of the people, so much so that elders and people are occasionally used as equivalent terms (comp. Joshua 24:1 with 2, 19, 21; 1 Samuel 8:4 with 7, 10, 19). Their authority was undefined, and extended to all matters concerning the public weal; nor did the people question the validity of their acts, even when they disapproved of them (Joshua 9:18). When the tribes became settled the elders were distinguished by different titles, according as they were acting as national representatives ("elders of Israel," 1 Samuel 4:3; 1 Kings 8:1; 1 Kings 8:3; "of the land," 1 Kings 20:7; "of Judah," 2 Kings 23:1; Ezekiel 8:1), as district governors over the several tribes (Deuteronomy 31:28; 2 Samuel 19:11), or as local magistrates in the provincial towns, appointed in conformity with Deuteronomy 16:18, whose duty it was to sit in the gate and administer justice (Deuteronomy 19:12; Deuteronomy 21:3; Deuteronomy 22:15; Ruth 4:9; Ruth 4:11; 1 Kings 21:8; Judges 10:6); their number and influence may be inferred from 1 Samuel 30:26 sq. They retained their position under all the political changes which the Jews underwent: under the judges (Judges 2:7; Judges 8:14; Judges 11:5; 1 Samuel 4:3; 1 Samuel 8:4); in the time of Samuel (1 Samuel 16:4); under Saul (1 Samuel 30:26), David (1 Chronicles 21:16), and the later kings (2 Samuel 17:4; 1 Kings 12:6; 1 Kings 20:8; 1 Kings 21:11); during the captivity (Jeremiah 29:1; Ezekiel 8:1; Ezekiel 14:1; Ezekiel 20:1); subsequently to the return (Ezra 5:5; Ezra 6:7; Ezra 6:14; Ezra 10:8; Ezra 10:14); under the Maccabees, when they were described sometimes as the senate (γερουσία; 1 Maccabees 12:6; 2 Maccabees 1:10; 2 Maccabees 4:44; 2 Maccabees 11:27; Josephus, Ant. 12:3, 3), sometimes by their ordinary title (1 Maccabees 7:33; 1 Maccabees 11:23; 1 Maccabees 12:35); and, lastly, at the commencement of the Christian aera, when they are noticed as a distinct body from the Sanhedrim, but connected with it as one of the classes whence its members were selected, and always acting in conjunction with it and the other dominant classes. (See COUNCIL).

Thus they are associated sometimes with the chief priests (Matthew 21:23), sometimes with the chief priests and the scribes (Matthew 16:21), or the council (Matthew 26:59), always taking an active part in the management of public affairs. Luke describes the whole order by the collective term πρεσβυτηριον , i.e. eldership (Luke 22:66; Acts 22:5).. Like the scribes, they obtained their seat in the Sanhedrim by election, or nomination from the executive authority. (See AGE).

II. In the New Testament and in the Apostolical Church. In the article BISHOP (See BISHOP) (1:818 sq.), the origin and functions of the eldership in the N.T. and in the early Church are treated at some length, especially with regard to the question of the original identity of bishops and presbyters (or elders). Referring our readers to that discussion, we add here the following points.

1. Origin of the office. No specific account of the origin of the eldership in the Christian Church is given in the N.T. "The demand for it arose, no doubt, very early; as, notwithstanding the wider diffusion of gifts not restricted to office, provision was to be made plainly for the regular and fixed instruction and conduct of the rapidly multiplying churches. The historical pattern for it was presented in the Jewish synagogue, namely, in the college or bench of elders (πρεσβύτεροι, Luke 7:3; ἀρχισυνάγωγοι, Mark 5:22; Acts 13:15), who conducted the functions of public worship, prayer, reading, and exposition of the Scriptures. We meet Christian presbyters for the first time (Acts 11:30) at Jerusalem, on the occasion of the collection sent from the Christians of Antioch for the relief of their brethren in Judaea. From thence the institution passed over not only to all the Jewish Christian churches, but to those also which were planted among the Gentiles. From the example of the household of Stephanas at Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:15) we see that the first converts (the ἀπαρχαί ) ordinarily were chosen to this office, a fact expressly confirmed also by Clemens Romanus" (1 Corinthians c. 13). Schaff, in Meth. Quart. Rev. Oct. 1851; Apostolic Church, § 132. "The creation of the office of elder is nowhere recorded in the N.T., as in the case of deacons and apostles, because the latter offices were created to meet new and special emergencies, while the former was transmitted from the earliest times. In other words, the office of elder was the only permanent essential office of the Church under either dispensation" (Princeton Review, 19:61). The Jewish eldership, according to this view, was tacitly transferred from the Old Dispensation to the New, without express or formal institution, except in Gentile churches, where no such office had a previous existence (comp. Acts 11:30; Acts 14:23).

2. Functions of the Elders. The "elders" of the N.T. Church were plainly the "pastors" (Ephesians 4:11), "bishops, or overseers" (Acts 20:28, etc.); "leaders" and rulers" (Hebrews 13:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:12, etc.) of the flock. But they were not only leaders and rulers, but also the " regular teachers of the congregation, to whom pertained officially the exposition of the Scriptures, the preaching of the Gospel, and the administration of the sacraments. That this function was closely connected with the other is apparent, even from the conjunction of 'pastors and teachers,' Ephesians 4:11, where the terms, as we have already seen, denote the same persons. The same association of ruling and teaching occurs Hebrews 13:7 : 'Remember them which have the rule over you (ἡγούμενοι ), who have spoken unto you the word of God (οἵτινες ἐλάλησαν ὑμῖν τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ ), whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation' (comp. Hebrews 13:17). Especially decisive, however, are the instructions of the pastoral epistles, where Paul, among the requirements for the presbyterate, in addition to a blameless character and a talent for business and government, expressly mentions also ability to teach (1 Timothy 3:2): 'A bishop must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach' (διδακτικόν ), etc.; so also Titus 1:9, where it is required of a bishop that he shall hold fast the faithful word as he hath been taught (ἀντεχόμενον τοῦ κατὰ τὴν διδαχὴν πιστοῦ λόγου ), that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers'" (Schaff, 1. c.). It is not improbable (indeed, several passages in the New Testament seem clearly to favor the notion) that many persons were ordained elders in the apostolical age who were not, and could not be, separated from their temporal occupations. "At first, those who held office in the Church continued, in all probability, to exercise their former trades for a livelihood. The churches would scarcely be able (as they were mostly poor) to provide stipends at first for their pastors" (Neander). Nevertheless, men specially called and fitted for the work, and devoted to it, were entitled by the Christian law, as set forth by the apostles, to be supported by the people; but there was no distinction of rank, honor, or authority between those elders who had stipends and those who had none, unless, indeed, the latter, who, following Paul's example, "worked with their own hands" that they might not be chargeable to the churches, were held in greater honor for the time. The principle that full ministerial title may stand apart from stipend is fully recognised in modern times in the system of local preachers (q.v.) in the Methodist Episcopal Church (see Steward, On Church Government, Lond. 1853, page 128).

"After the pattern of the synagogues, as well as of the political administration of cities, which from of old was vested in the hands of a senate or college of decuriones, every church had a number of presbyters. We meet them everywhere in the plural and as a corporation: at Jerusalem, Acts 11:30; Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6; Acts 15:23; Acts 21:18; at Ephesus, 20:17, 28; at Philippi, Philippians 1:1; at the ordination of Timothy, 1 Timothy 4:14, where mention is made of the laying on of the hands of the presbytery; and in the churches to which James wrote, James 5:14 : 'Is any sick among you? let him call for the presbyters of the congregation, and let them pray over him,' etc. This is implied also by the notice (Acts 14:23) that Paul and Barnabas ordained elders for every church, several of them of course; and still more clearly by the direction given to Titus (Titus 1:5) to ordain elders, that is, a presbytery of such officers, in every city of Crete. Some learned men, indeed, have imagined that the arrangement in the larger cities included several congregations, while, however, each of these had but one elder or bishop; that the principle of congregational polity thus from the beginning was neither democratic nor aristocratic, but monarchical. But this view is contradicted by the passages just quoted, in which the presbyters appear as a college, as well as by the associative tendency which entered into the very life of Christians from the beginning. The household congregations (ἐκκλησίαι κατ᾿ οϊ v κον ), which are often mentioned and greeted (Romans 16:4-5; Romans 16:14-15; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2), indicate merely the fact that where the Christians had become very numerous they were accustomed to meet for edification at different places, and by no means exclude the idea of their organized union as a whole, or of their being governed by a common body of presbyters. Hence, accordingly, the apostolical epistles also are never addressed to a separate part, an ecclesiola in ecclesia, a conventicle, but always to the whole body of Christians at Rome, at Corinth, at Ephesus, at Philippi, at Thessalonica, etc., treating them in such case as a moral unity (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 5:1 sq.; 2 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 2:1 sq.; Colossians 4:16; Philippians 1:1, etc.). Whether a full parity reigned among these collegiate presbyters, or whether one, say the eldest, constantly presided over the rest, or whether, finally, one followed another in such presidency as primes inter pares by some certain rotation, cannot be decisively determined from the N.T. The analogy of the Jewish synagogue leads here to no entirely sure result, since it is questionable whether a particular presidency belonged to its eldership as early 'as the time of Christ. Some sort of presidency, indeed, would seem to be almost indispensable for any well-ordered government and the regular transaction of business, and is thus beforehand probable in the case of these primitive Christian presbyteries, only the particular form of it we have no means to determine" (Schaff, 1.c.).

III. In the early Church (post-apostolic). Very soon after the apostolic age the episcopacy arose, first in the congregational form, afterwards in the diocesan episcopacy. (See EPISCOPACY). Until the full development of the latter, elders or presbyters were the highest order of ministers. No trace of ruling elders, in the modern sense, is to be found in the early Church. There was a class of seniores ecclesie in the African Church, whom some writers have supposed to correspond to the ruling elder; but Bingham clearly shows the contrary. The name occurs in the writings of Augustine and Optatus. In the Diocletian persecution, when Mensurius was compelled to leave his church, he committed the ornaments and utensils to such of the elders as he could trust, fidelibus senioribus commendabit (Optatus, lib. I, page 41) In the works of Optatus there is a tract called "the Purgation of Felix and Caecilian," where is mention of these seniores. Augustine inscribes one of his epistles, Clero, senioribus, et universae plebi: "To the clergy, the elders, and all the people" (Epist. 137). According to Bingham, some of these seniores were the civil optimates (magistrates, aldermen); the Council of Carthage (A.D. 403) speaks of magistratus vel seniores locorum. Others were called seniores ecclesiastici, and had care of the utensils, treasures, etc., of the church, and correspond to modern churchwardens or trustees (Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes book 2, chapter 19, § 19; Hitchcock, in Amer. Presb. Review, April 1868).

IV. In the modern Church.

1. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of England, and the Protestant Episcopal Church, the word "priest" is generally used instead of "presbyter" or "elder" to designate the second order of ministers (the three orders being bishops, priests, and deacons). (See PRESBYTER);(See PRIEST).

2. In the Methodist Episcopal Church but two orders of ministers are recognised, viz. elders and deacons, the bishop being chosen as primus inter pares, or superintendent. (See EPISCOPACY). For the election, ordination, duties, etc., of elders, see the Discipline of the Methodist Episcopal Church, part 2, chapter 2, § 15, and part 4, chapter 6, § 2. The presiding elder is appointed by the bishop, once in four years, to superintend a district. For the nature and functions of this office, (See PRESIDING ELDER).

3. Among Congregationalists, the only Church officers now known are elders (or ministers) and deacons. Ruling elders were recognised in the Cambridge platform (q.v.), and their duties particularly pointed out; but neither the office itself nor the reasons by which it was supported were long approved. Ruling elders never were universal in Congregationalism, and the office was soon everywhere rejected (Upham, Ratio Disciplinae, 1844, § 38, 39; Dexter, On Congregationalism).

4. Among Presbyterian churches (i.e. all which adopt the Presbyterian form of government, whether designated by that name or not) there are generally two classes of elders, teaching and ruling elders. The teaching elders constitute the body of pastors; the ruling elders are laymen, who are set apart as assistants to the minister in the oversight and ruling of the flock. Together with the minister, they constitute "the Session," the lowest judicatory in the Church. (See PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH). They cannot administer the sacraments, but aid at the Lord's Supper by distributing the elements to the communicants.

1. In Scotland, ruling elders constitute, with the ministers, the "Kirk Session." The Form of Government annexed to the Confession of Faith asserts that 'as there were in the Jewish Church elders of the people, joined with the priests and Levites in the government of the Church, so Christ, who hath instituted government and governors ecclesiastical in the Church, besides the ministers of the Word, with gifts for government, and with commission to execute the same when called thereunto, who are to join with the minister in the government of the Church, which officers reformed churches commonly call elders." "These elders are chosen from among the members, and are usually persons of tried character. After their acceptance of office, the minister, in the presence of the congregation, sets them apart to their office by prayer, and sometimes by imposition of hands, and concludes the ceremony of ordination with exhorting both elders and people to discharge their respective duties. They have no right to teach or to dispense the sacraments. 'They generally discharge the office, which originally belonged to the deacons, of attending to the interests of the poor; but their peculiar function is expressed by the name "ruling elders;" for in every question of jurisdiction they are the spiritual court of which the minister is officially moderator, and in the presbytery of which the pastors within the bounds are officially members the elders sit as the representatives of the several sessions or consistories' (Hill's Theolog. Instit. part 2, section 2, part 171). In the Established Church of Scotland elders are nominated by the Session, but in unestablished bodies they are freely chosen by the people" (Eadie, Eccl. Cyclop. s.v.). The United Presbyterian Church has the following rules on the subject:

"1. The right of electing elders is vested solely in the members of the congregation who are in full communion.

2. No fixed number of elders is required, but two, along with the minister, are required to constitute a Session. 3. When the Session judge it expedient that an addition should be made to their number, the first step is to call a meeting of the congregation for the purpose of electing the required number....

6. At the meeting for election a discourse is generally delivered suitable to the occasion. Full opportunity is first of all given to the members to propose candidates. The names are then read over, and, after prayer, the votes are taken, and the individuals having the greatest number of votes are declared to be duly elected.

7. After the election the call of the congregation is intimated to the elders elect, and on their acceptance the Session examines into their qualifications, and, if satisfied, orders an edict to be read in the church.

8. At the time mentioned in the edict, which must be read on two Sabbath days, the Session meets, the elders elect being present. After the Session is constituted, if no objections are brought forward, the day of ordination is fixed. If objections are made, the Session proceeds to inquire into and decide on them.

9. On the day of ordination, the moderator calls on the elders elect to stand forward, and puts to them the questions of the formula. Satisfactory answers being given, the minister proceeds to ordain or set them apart by prayer to the office of ruling elder. Immediately afterwards the right hand of fellowship is given to the persons thus ordained by the minister and by the other elders present, and the whole is followed by suitable exhortations."

2. The Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (book 1, chapter 5) contains the following: "Ruling elders are properly the representatives of the people, chosen by them for the purpose of exercising government and discipline, in conjunction with pastors or ministers. This office has been understood, by a great part of the Protestant reformed churches, to be designated in the holy Scriptures by the title of governments, and of those who rule well, but do not labor in the word and doctrine" (1 Corinthians 12:28). Chapter 13 gives the rules for the election and ordination of ruling elders. Each congregation elects "according to the mode most approved and in use in that congregation;" and the whole procedure is very similar to that of the U.P. Church recited above. The ordination is "by prayer" and the "right hand of fellowship," not by imposition of hands. The office is perpetual. The elders, with the pastor, constitute the Session; one elder from each church is a member of Presbytery and Synod; and one for every twenty-four ministers in each presbytery is sent to the General Assembly.

In the Reformed Church the elders are chosen for two years only, by the congregation or by the Consistory (Constitution of the Ref. Dutch Church, chapter 1, art. 3). They are entitled to membership in Classis and Synod as delegates (Constitution, chapter 2, art. 3). There is a form given in the book for their ordination, without imposition of hands. So also in the new liturgy prepared for the German Reformed Church.

3. Ruling Elders. The distinction between teaching and ruling elders originated with Calvin, and has diffused itself very widely among the churches which adopt the Presbyterian form of government; and the authority of the N.T. is claimed for it (see above, 2) in the Presbyterian "Form of Government" (book 1, chapter 5); in the Reformed Church Form of Ordination (Constit. page 118); in the Lutheran Church Formula of Government (chapter 3, § 6). The Congregationalists of New England admitted this distinction for a while (see above), but soon abandoned it.

Calvin (Institutes, book 4, chapter 3, § 8) seeks a scriptural basis for lay eldership as follows: "Governors (1 Corinthians 12:2) I apprehend to have been persons of advanced years, selected from the people to unite with the bishops in giving admonition, and exercising discipline. No other interpretation can be given of 'He that ruleth, let him do it with diligence' (Romans 12:8)... . Now that this was not the regulation of a single age experience itself demonstrates." This passage, however, occurs first in the 3d edition of the Institutes, 1543; it is not found in the editions of 1536 or 1539. The office of lay elders had existed before among the Unitas Fratrum, who were supposed to have borrowed it from the Waldenses; but these lay elders were only trustees or churchwardens. Calvin himself organized a lay eldership in Geneva, to be elected yearly, and seems afterwards to have sought a scriptural warrant for it. In so doing he formed a novel theory, viz. that of a two-fold eldership. "This cardinal assumption of a dual presbyterate was controverted by Blondel, himself a Presbyterian, in 1648, and again in 1696 by Vitringa, who, as Rothe says in his Anfange, 'routed from the field this phantom of apostolic lay elders.' Even the Westminster Assembly, when, in 1643, it debated the question of Church government, as it did for nearly four weeks, was careful not to commit itself to Calvin's theory of lay presbyters, refused to call them ruling elders, and in its final report in 1644 spoke of them as 'other Church governors,' 'which reformed churches commonly call elders.' Calvin's theory has also been controverted by James P. Wilson in his Primitive Government of Christian Churches (1833), and by Thomas Smyth in his Name, Nature, and Functions of Ruling Elders (1845). The drift of critical opinion is now decidedly in this direction. It is beginning to be conceded, even among Presbyterians of the staunchest sort, that Calvin was mistaken in his interpretation of 1 Timothy 5:17; that two orders of presbyters are not there brought to view, but only one order, the difference referred to being simply that of service, and not of rank. And if this famous passage fails to justify the dual presbyterate, much less may we rely upon the προϊστάμενος, έν σπουδῇ, 'he that ruleth with diligence,' of Romans 12:8, or the κυβερνήσεις , 'governments,' of 1 Corinthians 12:28.

In short, the jure divino theory of the lay eldership is steadily losing ground. A better support is sought for it in the New-Testament recognition throughout of the right and propriety of lay participation in Church government; in the general right of the Church, as set forth by Hooker in his Ecclesiastical Polity, to govern itself by whatsoever forms it pleases, provided the great end of government be answered; and in the proved fitness and efficiency of our present Presbyterian polity, as compared either with prelacy on the one side, or Congregationalism on the other" (Hitchcock, in Am. Presb. Rev. 1868, page 255). Dr. Thornwell (Southern Presb. Review, 1859; Spirit of the XIXth Century, December 1843; reprinted in Southern Presb. Rev. July, 1867) sets forth a peculiar theory of the divine right of the ruling eldership, viz. that the ruling elder is the presbyter of the N.T., whose only function was to rule, while the preachers were generally selected from the class of elders. This view is also maintained by Breckinridge (Knowledge of God, subjectively considered, page 629); and is refuted by Dr. Smyth, Princeton Review, volume 33 (see also Princeton Review, 15:313 sq.). Principal Campbell (Theory of Ruling Elderships, Edinb. and Lond. 1866) aims to show that "elder" in the N.T. always means pastor, and never means the modern "ruling elder" (see Brit. and For. Elvan. Review, January 1868, page 222). He shows that the Westminster Assembly, after a long discussion, refused to sanction Calvin's view; but he seeks to find lay elders, under another name, in Romans 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:28, etc., and also in early Church History. For a criticism of his view, and a luminous statement of the whole subject of lay eldership, with a conclusive proof that there is no trace of it in the N.T., see Dr. Hitchcock's article in the Amer. Presb. Review, April 1868, page 253 sq. See also an able critical and historical discussion of the subject in Dexter, Congregationalism (Boston, 1865), page 120 sq. The scriptural right of lay elders is maintained in The divine Right of Church Government, with Dr. Owen's Argument in favor of Ruling Elders (New York, 1844, 12mo); in Miller, On Ruling Elders (Presb. Board, 18mo). See also King, Eldership in the Christian Church (N.Y. 1851); Muhlenberg, On the Office of Ruling Elders; M'Kerrow, Office of Ruling Elders (London, 1846); Engles, Duties of Ruling Elders (Presb. Board); Smyth, Name, Nature, and Functions of Ruling Elders (N.Y. 1845, 12mo); Bingham, Orig. Ecclesiastes book 2, chapter 20, § 19; Gieseler, Church History, volume 1, § 29; Neander, Planting and Training, book 1, chapter 2; Davidson, Eccl. Polity of N.T.; Watson, Theol. Institutes, part. 4, chapter 1; Schaff, Apostolic Church, § 132, 113; Rothe, Anfange d. christlichen Kirche, § 28, 29; Bilson, Perpetual Government of Christ's Church; Owen, Works (Edinb. 1851), 15:504.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Elder'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​e/elder.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.
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