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41. Heresy and schism may be of such a nature as w call for deposition; but errors ought to be carefully considered, whether they strike at the vitals of religion and are industriously spread, or whether they arise from the weakness of the human understanding, and are not likely to do much injury.
42. If the presbytery finds, on trial, that the matter complained of amounts to no more than such acts of infirmity as may be amended and the people satisfied, so that little or nothing remains to hinder the usefulness of the offender, it shall take all prudent measures to remove the evil.
43. A minister deposed for immoral conduct shall not be restored, even on the deepest sorrow for his sin, until after some considerable time of eminent and exemplary, humble and edifying conduct; and he ought in no case to be restored, until it shall clearly appear to the judicatory within whose bounds he resides, that the restoration can be effected without injury to the cause of religion; and then only by the judicatory inflicting the censure, or with its advice and consent.
44. If a minister is deposed without excommunication, his pulpit, if he is a pastor, shall be declared vacant; and the presbytery shall give him a letter to any church with which he may desire to connect himself where his lot may be cast, in which shall be stated his exact relation to the Church. If a pastor is suspended from office only, the presbytery may, if no appeal from the sentence of suspension is pending, declare his pulpit vacant.
45. A presbytery may, if the edification of the Church demand it, require an accused minister to refrain from the exercise of his office until final action in the case shall be taken: provided, that in all cases a speedy investigation or trial shall be had.
46. In process by a session against a ruling elder or a deacon, the provisions of this chapter, so far as applicable, shall be observed.
OF CASES WITHOUT PROCESS. 47. If a person commits an offence in the presence of x judicatory, or comes forward as his own accuser and makes known his offence, the judicatory may proceed to judgment without process, giving the offender an opportunity to be heard; and in the case first named he may demand a delay of at least two days before judgment. The record must show the nature of the offence, as well as the judgment and the reasons therefor, and appeal may be taken from the judgment as in other cases.
48. If a communicant, not chargeable with immoral conduct, inform the session that he is fully persuaded that he has no right to come to the Lord's Table, the session shall confer with him on the subject, and may, should he continue of the same mind, and his attendance on the other means of grace be regular, excuse him from attendance on the Lord's Supper; and, after fully satisfying themselves that his judgment is not the result of mistaken views, shall erase his name from the roll of communicants, and make record of their action in the case.
49. If a communicant, not chargeable with immoral conduct, removes out of the bounds of his church, without asking for or receiving a regular certificate of dismission to another church, and his residence is known, the session may, within two years, advise him to apply for such certificate; and, if he fails so to do, without giving sufficient reason, his name may be placed on the roll of suspended members, until he shall satisfy the session of the propriety of his restoration. But, if the session has no knowledge of him for the space of three years, it may erase his name from the roll of communicants, making record of its action and the reasons therefor. In either case, the member shall continue subject to the jurisdiction of the session. A separate roll of all such names shall be kept, stating the relations of each to the church.
50. If any couununicant, not chargeable with immoral conduct, neglects the ordinances of the Church for one year, and in circumstances such as the session shall re. gard to be a serious injury to the cause of religion, he may, after affectionate visitation by the Session, and admonition if need be, be suspended from the communion of the Church until he gives satisfactory evidence of the sincerity of his repentance, but he shall not be excommunicated without due process of discipline.
51. If a minister, otherwise in good standing, shall make application to be released from the office of the ministry, le may, at the discretion of the presbytery, be put on probation, for one year at least, in such a manner as the presbytery may direct, in order to ascertain his motives and reasons for such a relinquishment. And if, at the end of this period, the presbytery be satisfied that he cannot be useful and happy in the exercise of his ministry, they may allow him to demit the office, and return to the condition of a private member in the Church, ordering his name to be stricken from the roll of the presbytery, and giving him a letter to any church with which he may desire to connect himself.
52. If a communicant renounces the communion of this Church by joining another denomination, without a regular dismission, although such conduct is disorderly, the session shall take no other action in the case than to record the fact, and order his name to be erased from the roll. If charges are pending against him, these charges may be prosecuted.
53. If a minister, not otherwise chargeable with an offence, renounces the jurisdiction of this Church, by abandoning the ministry, or becoming independent, or joining another denomination not deemed heretical, without a regular dismission, the presbytery shall take no other action than to record the fact and to erase his name from the roll. If charges are pending against him, he may be tried thereon. If it appears that he has joined another denomination deemed heretical, he may be suis. penderl, deposed, ur excommunicated.
54. JUDICATORIES ought to be very careful and impar. tial in receiving testimony. Not every person is competent, and not every competent person is credible, as a witness.
55. All persons, whether parties or otherwise, are competent witnesses, except such as do not believe in the existence of God, or a future state of rewards and punishments, or have not sufficient intelligence to understand the obligation of an oath. Any witness may be challenged for incompetency, and the judicatory shall decide the question.
56. The credibility of a witness, or the degree of credit due to his testimony, may be affected by relationship to any of the parties; by interest in the result of the trial : by want of proper age; by weakness of understanding; by infamy or malignity of character; by being under church censure; by general rashness or indiscretion; or by any other circumstances that appear to affect his veracity, knowledge, or interest in the case.
57. A husband or wife shall be a competent witness for or against the other, but shall not be compelled to testify.
58. Evidence may be oral, written or printed, direct or circumstantial. A charge may be proven by the testimony of one witness, only when supported by other evidence; but, when there are several specifications under the same general charge, the proof of two or more of the specifications, by different credible witnesses, shall be sufficient to establish the charge.
59. No witness afterwards to be examined, except a inember of the judicatory, shall be present during the examination of another witness if either party object.
60. Witnesses shall be examined first by the party producing them; then cross-examined by the opposite party; after which any member of the judicatory or either party may put additional interrogatories. Irrelevant or frivo. lous questions shall not be admitted, nor leading questions by the parties producing the witness, except under perniission of the judicatory as necessary to ciicit, the truth.
61. The oath or affirmation shall be administered by the Moderator in the following, or like, terms: “You solemnly promise, in the presence of the omniscient and heart-searching God, that you will declare the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, according to the best of your knowledge, in the matter in which you are called to testify, as you shall answer to the Great Judge of quick and dead.”
62. Every question put to a witness shall, if required, be reduced to writing. And, if either party desire it, or if the judicatory shall so decide, both question and answer shall be recorded. The testimony, thus recorded, shall be read to the witnesses, in the presence of the judicatory, for their approbation and subscription.
63. The records of a judicatory, or any part of them, whether original or transcribed, if regularly authenticated by the Clerk, or in case of his death, absence, disability or failure from any cause, by the Moderator, shall be deemed good and sufficient evidence in every other judicatory.
64. In like manner, testimony taken by one judicatory, and regularly certified, shall be received by every other judicatory, as no less valid than if it had been taken by themselves.
65. Any judicatory, before which a case may be pend. ing, shall have power, whenever the necessity of partiet or of witnesses shall require it, to appoint, on the application of either party, a commission of ministers, or elders, or both, to examine witnesses; which rommission, if the case requires it, may be of persons within the jurisdiction of another body. The commissioners so appointed shall take such testimony as may be offered by either party. The testimony shall be taken in accordance with the rules governing the judicatory, either orally or on written inter