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not more than two shall be from any one synod, and the committee shall report its recommendations to the Geu eral Assembly next ensuing, for action.
IV. No alterations of the provisions contained in this chapter for amending or altering the Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, or of this fourth section, shall be made, unless an Overture from the General Assembly, submitting the proposed alterations, shall be transmitted to all the presbyteries, and be approved in writing by two-thirds of their number, and be agreed to and enacted by the General Assembly.
V. It shall be obligatory on the General Assembly to transmit to the presbyteries, for approval or disapproval, any Overture respecting amendments or alterations provided for in this chapter, which shall be submitted to the same General Assembly by one-third of all the presby
es. In such cases the Overture shall be formulated and transmitted by the General Assembly receiving the same to the presbyteries for their action, subject, as to all subsequent proceedings, to the provisions of the foregoing sections.
VI. Whenever it shall appear to the General Assembly that any proposed amendments or alterations of the Form of Government, Book of Discipline and Directory for Worship, shall have received a majority vote of all the presbyteries, the General Assembly shall declare such amendments or alterations to have been adop and the bame shall immediately go into effect.
VII. Nothing in this chapter shall be so construed as to affect the right of two-thirds of the presbyteries to propose amendments or alterations of the Confession of Faith, and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms, or of the General Assembly to agree to and enact the same.
BOOK OF DISCIPLINE.
OF DISCIPLINE: ITS NATURE, ENDS, AND SUBJECTS.
1. DISCIPLINE is the exercise of that authority, and the application of that system of laws, which the Lord Jesus Christ has appointed in his Church: embracing the care and control, maintained by the Church, over its members, officers, and judicatories.
2. The ends of Discipline are the maintenance of the truth, the vindication of the authority and honor of Christ, the removal of offences, the promotion of the purity and edification of the Church, and the spiritual good of offenders. Its exercise, in such a manner as to secure its appropriate ends, requires much prudence and discretion. Judicatories, therefore, should take into consideration all the circumstances which may give a different character to conduct, and render it more or less offensive; and which may require different action, in similar cases, at different times, for the attainment of the same ends.
3. An offence is anything, in the doctrine, principles, or practice of a church member, officer, or judicatory, which is contrary to the Word of God; or which, if it be not in its own nature sinful, may tempt others to sin, or mar their spiritual edification,
4. Nothing shall, therefore, be the object of judicial process, which cannot be proved to be contrary to the Holy Scriptures, or to the regulations and practice of the Church founded thereon; nor anything which does not in. volve those evils which Discipline is intended to prevent.
5a. Every case in which there is a charge of an offense against a church member or officer, shall be known, in its original and appellate stages, as a judicial case. Every other case shall be known as a non-judicial or administrative case.
56*. All children born within the pale of the visible Church are members of the Church, are to be baptized, are under the care of the Church, and subject to its government and discipline; and when they have arrived at years of discretion, they are bound to perform all the duties of church members.
OF THE PARTIES IN CASES OF PROCESS.
6. PROCESS against an alleged offender shall not be commenced unless some person undertakes to sustain the charge; or unless a judicatory finds it necessary for the ends of discipline to investigate the alleged offence.
7. An offence, gross in itself, may have been committed in such circumstances, that plainly the offender cannot be prosecuted to conviction. In all such cases, it is better to wait until God, in his righteous providence, shall give further light, than, by unavailing prosecution, to weaken the force of discipline.
8. No prosecution shall be allowed in a case of alleged personal injury, where the injured party is the prosecutor, unless those means of reconciliation have been tried, which are required by our Lord, Matthew xviii. 15–17: “If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may
* Numbers of Sections in this Book left unchanged for convenience of reference to the Digest, etc.
be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church."
9. The course prescribed by the preceding section shall not be required when the prosecution is initiated by a judicatory; but in all such cases, and in every case of prosecution by a private person other than the injured party, effort should be made, by private conference with the accused, to avoid, if possible, the necessity of actual process.
10. When the prosecution is initiated by a judicatory, THE PLESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA shall be the prosecutor, and an original party; in all other cases, the individual prosecutor shall be an original party.
11. When the prosecution is initiated by a judicatory, it shall appoint one or more of its own members a committee to conduct the prosecution in all its stages in whatever judicatory, until the final issue be reached: provided, that any appellate judicatory before which the case is pending shall, if desired by the prosecuting committee, appoint one or more of its own members to assist in the prosecution, upon the nomination of the prosecuting committee.
12. If one, who considers himself slandered, requests an investigation which a judicatory finds it proper to institute, one or more of its members shall be appointed to investigate the alleged slander, and make report in writing: and a record thereafter made may conclude the matter.
13. Great caution ought to be exercised in receiving accusations from any person who is known to indulge a malignant spirit toward the accused, or who is not cf good character, or who is himself under censure or process, or who is personally interested in any respect in the conviction of the accused, or who is known to be litigious, rash, or highly imprudent.
14. Any person who appears as a prosecutor, without appointment by the judicatory, shall be warned before the charges are presented, that, if he fail to show probable cause for the charges, he must himself be censured,
as a slanderer of the brethren, in proportion to the ma lignancy or rashness which may appear in the prosecu tion.
OF CHARGES AND SPECIFICATIONS.
15. The charge shall set forth the alleged offence; and the specifications shall set forth the facts relied upon to sustain the charge. Each specification shall declare, as far as possible, the time, place, and circumstances, and shall be accompanied with the names of the witnesses to be cited for its support.
16. A charge shall not allege more than one offence; several charges against the same person, however, with the specifications under each of them, may be presented to the judicatory at one and the same time, and may, in the discretion of the judicatory, be tried together. But, when several charges are tried at the same time, a vote on each charge must be separately taken.
17. In all cases of alleged personal injury, where the prosecution is by the injured person or persons, the charge must be accompanied by an averment, that the course prescribed by our Lord, Matt. xviii. 15–17, has been faithfully tried.
OF PROCESS: GENERAL RULES PERTAINING TO ALL CASES
18. ORIGINAL jurisdiction, in relation to Ministers, pertains to the presbytery; in relation to others, to the session. But the higher judicatories may institute procese in cases in which the lower have been directed so to do, and have refused or ueglected to obey.