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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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a numerous body of Presbyterians in Scotland, who, in the last century, seceded from the Scotch establishment. They did not, as they have uniformly declared, secede from the principles of the church of Scotland, as they are represented in her confession of faith, catechisms, longer and shorter, directory for worship, and form of Presbyterian government; but only from her present judicatories, that, they suppose, have departed from her true principles. A sermon preached by Mr. Ebenezer Erskine, of Sterling, at the opening of the synod of Perth and Sterling, in 1732, gave rise to this party. In this discourse, founded on Psalms 118:22 , "The stone which the builders refused," &c, he boldly testified against what he supposed corruptions in the national church; for which freedom the synod voted him censurable, and ordered him to be rebuked at their bar. He, and three other ministers, protested against this sentence, and appealed to the next assembly. The assembly, which met in May, 1733, approved of the proceedings of the synod, and ordered Mr. Erskine to be rebuked at their bar. He refused to submit to the rebuke; whence he and his brethren were, by the sentence of the assembly, suspended from the ministry. Against this, he and his friends protested; and being joined by many others, both ministers and elders, declaring their secession from the national church, they did, in 1736, constitute themselves into an ecclesiastical court, which they called the Associate Presbytery, and published a defence of their proceedings. They admit that the people have a right to choose their own pastors; that the Scriptures are the supreme judge by which all controversies must be determined; and that Jesus Christ is the only Head of his church, and the only King in Zion.

In 1745, the seceding ministers were become so numerous, that they were erected into three different presbyteries, under one synod. In 1747, through a difference in civil matters, they were divided into Burghers and Anti- Burghers. Of these two classes, the latter were the most rigid in their sentiments, and associated, therefore, the least with any other body of Christians. But this difference has been lately healed, and no longer subsists, either in Scotland or America.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Seceders'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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