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in general, of recommending and attempting * reformation, of manners, and the promotion of charity, truth, and holiness, through all the churches under their care.
VI. Before any overtures or regulations proposed by the Assembly to be established as constitutional rules, shall be obligatory on the churches, it shall be necessary to transmit them to all the presbyteries, and to receive the returns of at least a majority of them, in writing, approving thereof.
VII. The General Assembly shall meet at least once in every year. On the day appointed for that purpose, the moderator of the last Assembly, if present, or in case of his absence, some other minister, shall open the meeting with a sermon, and preside until a new moderator be chosen. No commissioner shall have a right to deliberate or vote in the Assembly, until his name shall have been enrolled by the clerk, and his commission examined, and filed among the papers of the Assembly.
VIII. Each session of the Assembly shall be opened and closed with prayer. And the whole business of the Assembly being finished, and the vote taken for dissolving the present Assembly, the moderator shall say from the chair,—“By “ virtue of the authority delegated to me, by “the church, let this General Assembly be dis“solved, and I do hereby dissolve it, and re
quire another General Assembly, chosen in “the same manner, to meet at
after which he shall pray and return thanks, and pronounce on those present the apostolic benediction.
OF ELECTING AND ORDAINING RULING ELDERS AND
I. Having defined the officers of the church, and the judicatories by which it shall be governed, it is proper here to prescribe the mode in which ecclesiastical rulers should be ordained to their respective offices, as well as some of the principles by which they shall be regulated in discharging their several duties.
II. Every congregation shall elect persons to the office of ruling elder, and to the office of deacon, or either of them, in the mode most approved and in use in that congregation." But in all cases the persons elected must be male members in full communion in the church in which they are to exercise their office.
III. When any person shall have been elected to either of these offices, and shall have declared his willingness to accept thereof, he shall be set apart in the following manner :
IV. After sermon, the minister shall state, in a concise manner, the warrant and nature
1 Cor. xiv. 40. Let all things be done decently, and in order.
of the office of ruling elder or deacon, together with the character proper to be sustained, and the duties to be fulfilled by the officer elect: having done this, he shall propose to the candidate, in the presence of the congregation, the following questions :-viz.
1. Do you believe the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the 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 approve of the government and discipline of the Presbyterian church in these United States ?
4. Do you accept the office of ruling elder (or deacon, as the case may be) in this congregation, and promise faithfully to perform all the duties thereof?
5. Do you promise to study the peace, unity, and purity of the church?
The elder, or deacon elect, having answered these questions in the affirmative, the minister shall address to the members of the church the following question :—viz.
Do you, the members of this church, acknowledge and receive this brother as a ruling elder, (or deacon) and do you promise to yield him all that honour, encouragement, and obedience, in the Lord, to which his office, according to the
word of God, and the constitution of this church, entitles him ?
The members of the church having answered this question in the affirmative, by holding up their right hands, the minister shall proceed to set apart the candidate, by prayer, to the office of ruling elder, (or deacon, as the case may be) and shall give to him, and to the congregation, an exhortation suited to the occasion.
V. Where there is an existing session, it is proper that the members of that body, at the close of the service, and in the face of the congregation, take the newly ordained elder by the hand, saying in words to this purpose,
give you the right hand of fellowship, to take part of this office with us.”
VI. The offices of ruling elder and deacon are both perpetual, and cannot be laid aside at pleasure. No person can be divested of either office but by deposition. Yet an elder or deacon may become, by age or infirmity, incapable of performing the duties of his office; or he may, though chargeable with neither heresy nor immorality, become unacceptable, in his official character, to a majority of the congregation to which he belongs. In either of these cases he may, as often happens with respect to a minister, cease to be an acting elder or deacon.
• VII. Whenever a ruling elder or deacon, from either of these causes, or from any other,
i Acts vi. 5, 6.
not inferring crime, shall be incapable of serving the church to edification, the session shall take order on the subject, and state the fact, together with the reasons of it, on their records. Provided always, that nothing of this kind shall be done without the concurrence of the individual in question, unless by the advice of presbytery.
OF LICENSING CANDIDATES OR PROBATIONERS
PREACH THE GOSPEL
I. The Holy Scriptures require that somo 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;j and that the churches may have an opportunity to 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
j 1 Tim. iii. 6. Not a novice. 2 Tim. ii. 2. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.
* 1 Tim. iii. 7. 3 Jola 12.