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OF THE PRESBYTERY.
I. THE Church being divided into many separate congregations, these need mutual counsel and assistance, in order to preserve soundness of doctrine, and regularity of discipline, and to enter into common measures for promoting knowledge and religion, and for preventing infidelity, error, and immorality." Hence arise the importance and usefulness of presbyterial and synodical assemblies."
II. A presbytery consists of all the ministers, in number not less than five, and one ruling elder from each congregation, within a certain district; but in exceptional cases a presbytery may be organized within the boundaries of existing presbyteries, in the interests of ministers and churches speaking other than the English language, or of those of a particular race; but in no case without their consent; and the same rule shall apply to synods.
III. Every congregation, which has a stated pastor, has a right to be represented by one elder; and every collegiate church by two or more elders, in proportion to the number of its pastors.
IV. Where two or more congregations are united under one pastor, all such congregations shall have but one elder to represent them.
V. Every vacant congregation, which is regularly or
The church of Jerusalem consisted of more than one, as is mani. fest both before and after the dispersion, from Acts vi. 1, 6. Acts ix. 31. Acts xxi. 20. Acts ii. 41, 46, 47, and iv. 4. These congregations were under one presbyterial government, proved from Acts xv. 4. Acts xi. 22, 30. Acts xxi. 17, 18. Acts vi. That the church of Ephesus had more congregations than one, under a presbyterial government, appears from Acts xix. 18, 19, 20. 1 Cor. xvi. 8, 9, 19, compared with Acts xviii. 19, 24, 26. Acts xx. 17, 18, 25, 28, 30, 31, 36, 37. Rev. ii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
1 Tim. iv. 14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery Acts xv. 2, 3, 4, 6, 22.-And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them.-And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
ganized, shall be entitled to be represented by a ruling elder in presbytery.
VI. Every elder not known to the presbytery, shall produce a certificate of his regular appointment from the church which he represents.*
VII. Any three ministers, and as many elders as may be present belonging to the presbytery, being met at the time and place appointed, shall be a quorum competent to proceed to business."
VIII. The presbytery has power to receive and issue all appeals, complaints, and references, that may be regularly brought before it from church sessions, provided, that cases may be transmitted to Judicial Commissions as prescribed in the Book of Discipline; to examine and license candidates for the holy ministry; to ordain,
* Acts xv. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. 1 Cor. xiv. 26, 33, 40.-Let all things be done unto edifying;-for God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.-Let all things be done decently and in order.
Acts xiv. 26, 27. And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they bad been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. Compared with Acts xi. 18. When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Acts xv. 5, 6, 19, 20. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise thein, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.-Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: but that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Acts xviii. 24, 27. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him. Compare Acts xix. 1-7.
1 Tim. iv. 14. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Acts xiii. 2, 3. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away
install, remove, and judge ministers; to examine and approve or censure the records of church sessions; to resolve questions of doctrine or discipline seriously and reasonably proposed; to condemn erroneous opinions which injure the purity or peace of the Church; to visit particular churches, for the purpose of inquiring into their state, and redressing the evils that may have arisen in them; to unite or divide congregations, at the request of the people, or to form or receive new congregations, and in general to order whatever pertains to the spiritual welfare of the churches under their care."
IX. It shall be the duty of the presbytery to keep a full and fair record of their proceedings, and to report to the synod, every year, licensures, ordinations, the receiv ing or dismissing of members, the removal of members by death, the union or division of congregations, or the formation of new ones, and in general, all the important changes which may have taken place within their bounds in the course of the year.
• Acts xv. 28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things. 1 Cor. v. 3.
d Acts xv. 10. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Compared with Gal. ii. 4, 5.
• Acts xv. 22, 23, 24. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas sursamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: and they wrote letters by them after this manner; The aposties and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch aud Syria and Cilicia: forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law; to whom we gave no such commandment.
Acts xx. 17. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. Acts vi. 2. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Acts xv. 30. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch; and when they had gath. ered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle.
Eph. vi. 18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and suppli cation for all saints.-Phil. iv. 6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
X. The presbytery shall meet on its own adjournment; and when any emergency shall require a meeting sooner than the time to which it stands adjourned, the moderator, or, in case of his absence, death, or inability to act, the stated clerk, shall, with the concurrence, or at the request of two ministers and two elders, the elders being of different congregations, call a special meeting. For this purpose he shall send a circular letter, specifying the particular business of the intended meeting, to every minister belonging to the presbytery, and to the session of every vacant congregation, in due time previous to the meeting; which shall not be less than ten days. And nothing shall be transacted at such special meeting besides the particular business for which the judicatory has been thus convened.
XI. At every meeting of presbytery, a sermon shall be delivered, if convenient; and every particular session shall be opened and closed with prayer.
XII. Ministers in good standing in other presbyteries, or in any sister churches, who may happen to be present, may be invited to sit with the presbytery, as corresponding members. Such members shall be entitled to deliberate and advise, but not to vote in any decisions of the presbytery.
OF THE SYNOD.*
I. As a presbytery is a convention of the bishops and elders within a certain district; so a synod is a convention of the bishops and elders within a larger district, including at least three presbyteries. The synod may be composed, at its own option, with the consent of a major
* As the proofs already adduced in favor of a presbyterial assembly in the government of the Church, are equally valid in support of a synodical assembly, it is unnecessary to repeat the Scriptures to which reference has been made under Chap. X., or to add any other.
ity of its presbyteries, either of all the bishops and an elder from each congregation in its district, with the same modifications as in the presbytery, or of equal delegations of bishops and elders, elected by the presbyteries on a basis and in a ratio determined in like manner by the synod itself and its presbyteries.
II. Any seven ministers, belonging to the synod, who shall convene at the time and place of meeting, with as many elders as may be present, shall be a quorum to transact synodical business; provided not more than three of the said ministers belong to one presbytery.
III. The same rule, as to corresponding members, which was laid down with respect to the presbytery, shall apply to the synod.
IV. The synod has power to receive and issue all appeals, complaints, and references, that are regularly brought before it from the presbyteries, and to decide finally in such cases all questions that do not affect the doctrine or Constitution of the Church, provided, that cases may be transmitted to Judicial Commissions as prescribed in the Book of Discipline; to decide on all references made to them; its decisions on appeals, complaints, and references, which do not affect the doctrine or Constitution of the Church, being final; to review the records of presbyteries, and approve or censure them; to redress whatever has been done by presbyteries contrary to order; to take effectual care that presbyteries observe the Constitution of the Church; to erect new presbyteries, and to unite or divide those which were before erected; generally to take such order with respect to the presbyteries, sessions, and people under their care, as may be in conformity with the Word of God and the established rules, and which tend to promote the edification of the Church; and, finally, to propose to the General Assembly, for its adoption, such measures as may be of common advantage to the whole Church.
V. The synod shall convene at least once in each year; at the opening of which a sermon shall be delivered by