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THE Synod of New York and Philadelphia,
judging it expedient to ascertain and fix the Syftem of union, and the form of Government and Disciplin. of the Presbyterian Church in these United States, under their care; have thought proper to lay down, by way of inıroduction, a few of the general principles by which they have been hitherto governed, and which are the ground work of the following plan. This, it is hoped, will, in some measure, prevent those rash misconstructions, and und candid reflections, which usually proceed from an ima perfect view of any subject; as well as make the several parts of the system plain, and the whole plan perspicuous and fully underflood.
The Synod are unanimously of opinion ; 1. That “God alone is Lord of the conscience ; " and hath left it free from the doctrine und com. mandments of men,
which in any thing con “trary to his word, or before it in matters of fuith
or worship:" Therefore, they cor.hiler the rights of private judgment, in all matters that rcfpect religion,
as universal, and unalienable : They do not even wish to see any religious conftitution aided by the ciul power, further than may be necessary for protection and security, and, at the same time, equal and common to all others.
II. That, in perfect consistency with the above principle of common right, every Christian church, or union or association of particular churches, is entitled to declare the terms of admision into its communion and the qualification, of its ministers and members, as well as the whole System of its internal government which Chrift hath appointed : That, in the exercise of this right, they may, notwithstanding, err, in making the terms of communion either too lax or too narrow : yet, even in this case, they do not infringe upon the liberty, or the rights of others, but only make an improper use of their own.
III. That our blessed Saviour, for the edification of the vihble church, which is his body, hath appoint. ed officers, not only to preach the gospel and administer the sacraments; but also to exercise difsipline, for the preservation both of truth and duty : and, that it is incumbent upon these officers, and upon the whole Church, in whose name they all, to cenfure, or cast out, the erroneous and scandalous ; observing, in all cases, the rules contained in the word of God.
IV. That truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holihefs ; according to our Saviour's rule," by their fruits
"ye fball know them.”
And that no opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd, than that which brings truth and falflcod upon a level, and represents it as of no conf:quence what a man's opini
On the contrary, they are persuaded, that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise, it would be of no consequence either to discover truth, or to einbrace it,
V. That while under the conviction of the above principle, they think it neceffury, to moke .effectual provision, that all who are admitted as Teachers, be found in the faith; they also believe, that there are truths and forms, with respect to which men of good characters and principles may differ : And in all these, they think it the daty, both of private Christians and societies, to exercise mutual forbearance towards each other.
VI. That though the character, qualifications, and authority of church-officers, are laid down in the koly fcriptures, as well as the proper method of their investiture and institution; get the election of the perfons to the exercise of this authority, in any particular fociety, is in that fociety.
VII. That all church power, w.bether exercised by the body in general, or, in the way of representa
tion, by delegated authority, is only ministerial and s-declarative ; That is to say, that the boly Scriptures
are the only rule of faith and manners; that no church judicatory ought ta pretend to make iuws, to
bind the conscience, in virtue of their own authority : and that all their decisions pould be founded upon the revealed will of God. Now though it will easily be admitted, that all synods and councils may err, through the frailty inseparable from humanity; yet there is much greater danger, from the ufur ped claim of making laws, than from the right of judging upon laws already made, and common to all who profefs the gospel ; although this right, as necesity requires in the present state, be lodged with fallible
VIII. Lastly, That, if the preceding scriptural and rational principles be stedfafly adhered to, the vigor and strictness of its discipline will contribute to the glory and happiness of any church.
Since ecclefia affical discipline must be purely moral or spiritual in its object, and not attended with any civil effects, it can derive no force whatever, but from its own juftice, the approbation of an impartial public, and the countenance and blefing of the great Head of the church universal
Of the Church. Sect. I. ESUS CHRIST, who is now exalted,
far above all principality, and power“, hath erected, in this world, a kingdom, which is his church'.
Sect. II. The universal church conGfts of all those persons, in every nation, together with
1. a Eph. 1. 20, 21. When my king upon my holy hill of he raised him from the dead, Zion. Dan, 7. 14. There was and fet him at his own right given him dominion and glory, hand in heavenly places, far and a kingdom, that all peoabove all principality, and pow- ple, nations, and languages er, and night, and dominion, should serve him; his domiand every name that is named, nion is an everlafting dominion not only in this world, but also which shall not pass away, in that which is to come. Pfal. and his kingdom that which 68. 18. Thon haft afcended on shall not be destroyed. Eph. t. high, thou haft led captivity 22, 23. And put all things under captive, thou haft receiverl gifts his feet, and gave him to be head for men: yea, for the rebellious over all things to the church, also, that the Lord God might which is his body, the fulness well among then.
ef him that filleth all in all. b. Pfal. 2. 6. Yet have I set