Page images
PDF
EPUB

only shan be elected every year; and provided, that elders, once ordained, shall not be divested of the office when they are not re-elected, but shall be entitled to represent that particular church in the higher judicatories, when appointed by the session or the presbytery.

CHAPTER XIV.

OF LICENSING CANDIDATES OR PROBATIONERS TO PREACH

THE GOSPEL,

I. The Holy Scriptures require that some trial be previously had of them who are to be ordained to the ministry of the gospel, that this sacred office may not be degraded, by being committed to weak or unworthy men ;' and that the churches may have an opportunity lo form a better judgment respecting the talents of those by whom they are to be instructed and governed. For this purpose presbyteries shall license probationers to preach the gospel, that after a competent trial of their talents, and receiving from the churches a good report, they may, in due time, ordain them to the sacred office.

II. Every candidate for licensure shall be taken on trials by that presbytery to which he most naturally belongs; and he shall be considered as most naturally belonging to that presbytery within the bounds of which he has ordinarily resided. But in case any candidate should find it more convenient to put himself under the care of a presbytery at a distance from that to which he most naturally belongs, he may be received by the said presbytery, on his producing testimonials either from the presbytery within the bounds of which he has commonly resided, or from any two ministers of that presbytery in good standing, of his exemplary piety, and other requisite qualifications.

j1 Tim. iii. 6. 2 Tim. ii. 2.

k 1 Tim. iii, 7. 3 John 12.

III. It is proper and requisite that candidates applying to the presbytery to be licensed to preach the gospel, produce satisfactory testimonials of their good moral character, and of their being regular members of some partieular church. And it is the duty of the presbytery, for their satisfaction with regard to the real piety of such candidates, to examine them respecting their experimental acquaintance with religion, and the motives which influence them to desire the sacred ofiice. This examination shall be close and particular, and, in mos: cases, may best be conducted in the presence of the presbytery only. And it is recommended that the candidate be also required to produce a diploma of bachelor or master of arts, from some college or university: or, at least, authentic testimonials of his having gone through a regular course of learning.

IV. Because it is highly reproachful to religion, and dangerous to the Church, to intrust the holy ministry to weak and ignorant men,” the presbytery shall try each candidate, as to his knowledge of the Latin language; and the original languages in which the Holy Scriptures wer" written. They shall also examine him on the arts and sciences; on theology, natural and revealed; and on ecclesiastical history, the sacraments, and church government. And in order to make trial of his talents to explain and vindicate, and practically to enforce, the doctrines of the gospel, the presbytery shall require of him,

1. A Latin exegesis on some common head in divinity.

2. A critical exercise; in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism; presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connection, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important questions which it may present.

3. A lecture, or exposition of several verses of scripture; and,

i Rom. ii. 21, in connection with letter (), page 372.
m See letter (), and (k), page 372.

4. A popular sermon.

V. These, or other similar exercises, at the discretion of the presbytery, shall be exhibited until they shall bave obtained satisfaction as to the candidate's piety, literature, and aptness to teach in the churches." The lecture and popular sermon, if the presbytery think proper, may be del ed in the presence of a congregation.

VI. That the most effectual measures may be taken to guard against the admission of insulficient men into the sacred oflice, it is recommended that no candidate, ex cept in extraordinary cases, be licensed, unless, after his having completed the usual course of academical studies, lie shall have studied divinity at least two years, under some approved divine or professor of theology; and no candidate shall receive license to preach until he has been under the care of presbytery for at least one year, except in extraordinary cases and by consent of three-fourths of the members of presbytery present.

VII. If the presbytery be satisfied with his trials, they shall then proceed to license him in the following manner: The moderator shall propose to him the following questions : viz.

1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be che Word of God, the only infallible rule of faith and practice ?

2. Do you sincerely receive and adopt the Confession of Faith of this Church, as containing the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures ?

3. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the Church ?

4. Do you promise to submit yourself, in the Lord, to the government of this presbytery, or of any other presbytery in the bounds of which you may be called ?

VIII. The candidate having answered these questions in the affirmative, and the moderator having offered up a prayer suitable to the occasion, he shall address hima

n 1 Tim. iii. 2. Apt to teach. See also the foregoing cotations. • See letter (%), page 372.

day of

the press

self to the candidate to the following purpose :-“ In the "name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by that authority “ which he hath given to the Church for its edification,

we do license you to preach the gospel, wherever God in "his providence may call you: and for this purpose, may “the blessing of God rest upon you, and the Spirit of “ Christ fill your heart.-dimen !” and record shall be made of the licensure in the following or like form: víz, At

the bytery of

having received testimonials in favor of

of his having gone through a regular course of literature; of his goud moral character; and of his being in the communion of the t'hurch: proceeded to take the usual parts of trial for his licensure: and he having given satisfaction as to his accomplishments in literature; as to his experimental acquaintance with religion; and as to his proficiency in divinity and other studies; the pres. bytery did, and hereby do, express their approbation of all these parts of trial: and he having adopted the confession of faith of this church, and satisfactorily answered the questions appointed to be put to candidates to be licensed; the presbytery did, and hereby do license him, the said

to preach the gospel of Christ, as a probationer for the holy ministry, within the bounds of this presbytery, or wherever else he shall be orderly called.

IX. When any candidate for licensure shall have occasion, while his trials are going on, to remove from the bounds of his own presbytery into those of another, it shall be considered as regular for the latter presbytery, on his producing proper testimonials from the former, to take up his trials at the point at which they were left, and conduct them to a conclusion, in the same manner as if they had been commenced by themselves.

X. In like manner, when any candidate, after licensure, shall, by the permission of his presbytery, remove without its limits, an extract of the record of his licenbure, accompanied with a presbyterial recommendation,

signed by the clerk, shall be his testimonials to the presbytery under whose care he shall come.

XI. When a licentiate shall have been preaching for a considerable time, and his services do not appear to be edifying to the churches, the presbytery may, if they think proper, recall his license.

CHAPTER XV.

OF THE ELECTION AND ORDINATION OF BISHOPS OR PAS

TORS, AND EVANGELISTS.

I. WHEN any probationer shall have preached so much to the satisfaction of any congregation, as that the people appear prepared to elect a pastor, the session shall take measures to convene them for this purpose : and it shall always be a duty of the session to convene them, when a majority of the persons entitled to vote in the case, shall, by a petition, request that a meeting may be called.

II. When such a meeting is intended, the session shall solicit the presence and counsel of some neighboring minister to assist them in conducting the election contemplated, unless highly inconvenient on account of distance; in which case they may proceed without such assistance.

III. On a Lord's Day, immediately after public worship, it shall be intimated from the pulpit, that all the members of that congregation are requested to meet on

ensuing, at the church, or usual place for holding public worship; then and there, if it be agreeable to them, to proceed to the election of a pastor for that congregation.

IV. On the day appointed, the minister invited to premiile, if he be present, shall, if it be deemed expedient, preach a sermon; and after sermon he shall announce to the people, that he will immediately proceed to take the votes of the electors of that congregation, for a pastor, if such be their desire: and when this desire shall be expressed by a majority of voices, he shall then proceed to

« PreviousContinue »