THE NEW ENGLAND WAY
being a page of Documents
Pertaining to the Formation and Sustainance
CONGREGATIONAL ORDER OF CHURCHES
Wm. Wells, A. B., M. Div.
church bodies organize themselves under Congregational polity, a form of
governance where the local congregation is the final decision-making body. Most
come from, or were born in reaction to, the Reformed, or Calvinist, tradition.
While Baptists and Disciples can be accounted this way, the "Congregational
Order" in the United States was birthed in New England among the Puritans and
Pilgrims. This page is dedicated to sharing vital documents related to the
formation of this form of church government.
The True Constitution of a particular visible Church,
by John Cotton. (1642)
The Way of the Churches of Christ in New-England, by John Cotton (1645)
The Cambridge Platform (1648)
The front-material and preface
- Chapter 1:Of the form of Church-Government; and
that it is one, immutable, and prescribed in the Word of
- Chapter 2:Of the nature of the Catholick Church
in Generall, & in speciall, of a particular visible Church.
- Chapter 3:Of the matter of the Visible Church
Both inrespect of Quality and Quantity.
- Chapter 4:Of the Form of A Visible Church & of
- Chapter 5:Of the first subject of church powr
or, to whom church powr doth first belong.
- Chapter 6:Of the Officers of the Church,
especially of Pastors & Teachers.
- Chapter 7:Of Ruling Elders & Deacons.
- Chapter 8:Of the Election of
- Chapter 9:Of Ordination, & Imposition of
- Chapter 10:Of the powr of the Church, & its
- Chapter 11:Of the maintenance of Church
- Chapter 12:Of Admission of members into the
- Chapter 13:Of Church-members their removall
from one Church to another, & of letters of recomendation & dismission
- Chapter 14:Of excommunication & other Censures
- Chapter 15:Of the comunion of Churches one
- Chapter 16:Of Synods
- Chapter 17:Of the Civil Magistrates powr in
Special thanks go to the Rev. Dan Hotchkiss, of Falmouth, Massachusetts, for
his help in preparing these documents.
The New England response to the
Presbyterian-polity of the Westminister Assembly, occuring simultaneously in England.
The text of the Westminister
Confession from the Presbyterian Free Church web page.
The later impact of Enlightenment and Evangelicalism led to a split in the New
England Order into two wings: the "liberals" (Unitarians) and the
"evangelicals" or "orthodox" (Congregationalists). The following links will
lead you to the successor associations to the New England Way.