(Christian Church) Springfield Presbytery
The Last Will And Testament Of The Springfield Presbytery
In 1803 Barton W. Stone, along with several other men, organized the Springfield Presbytery which birthed The (Christian Disciples), and many other Restorational denominations found in the U.S., and Canada. The Last Will is a brief document in which Stone and five others announced their withdrawal from man-made rules and regulations found in many tradition denominations of their day, and their intention to be solely part of the body of Christ. The remnants of the Springfield Presbytery became the "Christian Church." Soon they adopted the name "Christian" to identify their group. Barton Stone appealed for the unity of all who follow Jesus Christ, suggested the value of congregational self-governance, and lifted the Bible as the source for understanding the will of God. They denounced the divisive use of all creeds and confessions. The document denounced all human creeds and appealed to the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. However, the Springfield Presbytery did not last long because its proponents soon discovered that the New Testament contains no more reference to a Presbytery than it does to a creed. They, therefore, met and agreed to dissolve what they considered to be an unscriptural organization, publishing at the same time its Last Will and Testament. The document was signed June 28, 1804 by six people, one of whom was Barton W. Stone, the founder of The Evangelical Christian Church (Christian Disciples).
We will, that this body die, be dissolved, and sink into union with the Body of Christ at large; for there is but one body, and one Spirit, even as we are called in one hope of our calling.
We will, that our name of distinction, with its Reverend title, be forgotten, that there be but one Lord over God's heritage, and his name one.
We will, that our power of making laws for the government of the church, and executing them by delegating authority, forever cease; that, the people may have free course to the Bible, and adopt the law of the Spirit of life Christ Jesus.
We will, that candidates for the Gospel ministry henceforth study the holy scriptures with fervent prayer, and obtain license from God to preach the simple Gospel, with the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, without mixture of philosophy, vain deceit, traditions of men, or the rudiments of the world. And let none henceforth take this honor to himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.
We will, that the church of Christ assume her native right of internal government-try her candidates for the ministry, as to their soundness in the faith, acquaintance with experimental religion, gravity and aptness to teach; and admit no other proof of their authority but Christ speaking in them. We will that the church of Christ look up to the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into his harvest; and that she resume her primitive right of trying those who say they are Apostles, and are not.
We will, that each particular church, as a body, actuated by the same Spirit, choose her own preacher, and support him by a free will offering without written call or subscription-admit members-remove offences; and never henceforth delegate her right of government to any man or set of men whatever.
We will, that the people henceforth take the Bible as the only sure guide to heaven; and as many as are offended with other books, which stand in competition with it, may cast them into the fire if they choose: for it is better to enter to enter into life having one book, than having many to be cast into hell.
We will, that preachers and people, cultivate a Spirit of mutual forbearance, pray more and dispute less; and while they behold the signs of the times, look up and confidently expect that redemption draw nigh.
We will, that our weak brethren, who may have been wishing to make the Presbytery of Springfield their king, an wot not what is now become of it, betake themselves to the rock of ages, and follow Jesus for the future.
We will, that the Synod of Kentucky examine every member, who may be suspected of having departed from the Confession of Faith, ans suspend every such suspected heretic immediately; in order that the oppressed may go free, and taste the sweets of Gospel liberty.
We will, that Ja--------, the author of two letters lately published in Lexington, be encouraged in his zeal to destroy partyism-We will, moreover, that our past conduct be examined into by all who may have correct information; but let foreigners beware of speaking evil of things which they know not.
Finally, we will, that all our sister bodies, read their Bibles carefully, that they may see their fate there determined, and prepare for death before it is too late.