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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 (1) case may
(1) Acts vi. 5, 6.
be) and shall give to him, and to the congre gation, 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,-" We "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, 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 TO PREACH THE GOSPEL.
I. THE Holy Scriptures require that some 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; (1) 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. (2)
II. Every candidate for licensure shall be taken on trials by that presbytery to which he most naturally belongs; and he shall be considered as most naturally belonging to that presbytery within the bounds of which he has ordinarily resided. But in case any candidate should find it more convenient to put himself under the care of a presbytery at a distance from that to which he most naturally belongs, he may be received by the said presbytery, on
(1) 1 Tim. iii. 6. Not a novice. 2 Tim. ii. 2. Ani the things that thou hast heard of me among many wit nesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shak be able to teach others also.
(2) 1 Tim. ii. 7. 3 John 12.
his producing testimonials either from the presbytery within the bounds of which he has com monly resided, or from any two ministers of ma. presbytery in good standing, of his exemolary piety, and other requisite qualifications.
III. It is proper and requisite that candidates applying to the presbytery to be licensed to preach the gospel, produce satisfactory testimonials of their good moral character, and of their being regular members of some particular church. And it is the duty of the presbytery, for their satisfaction with regard to the real piety of such candidates, to examine them respecting their experimental acquaintance with religion, and the motives which influence them to desire the sacred office. (1) This examination shall be close and particular, and, in most cases, may best be conducted in the presence of the presbytery only. And it is recommended that the candidate be also required to produce a diploma of bachelor or master of arts, from some college or university: or, at least, authentic testimonials of his having gone through a regular course of learning.
IV. Because it is highly reproachful to religion, and dangerous to the church, to intrust the holy ministry to weak and ignorant men, (2) the presbytery shall try each candidate, as to his knowledge of the Latin language; and the original languages in which the Holy Scrip
(1) Rom. ii. 21. Thou, therefore, which teachest an other, teachest thou not thyself? &c., in connexion with figure (1), page 431.
(2) See figures (1) and (2), page 431.
tures were written. They shall also examine ium on the arts and sciences; on theology, natural and revealed; and on ecclesiastical history, the sacraments, and church government. And in order to make trial of his talents to explain and vindicate, and practically to enforce, the doctrines of the gospel, the presbytery shall require of him,
1. A Latin exegesis on some common head in divinity.
2. A critical exercise; in which the candidate shall give a specimen of his taste and judgment in sacred criticism; presenting an explication of the original text, stating its connexion, illustrating its force and beauties, removing its difficulties, and solving any important questions which it may present.
3. A lecture, or exposition of several verses of Scripture; and,
4. A popular sermon.
V. These, or other similar exercises, at the discretion of the presbytery, shall be exhibited until they shall have obtained satisfaction as to the candidate's piety, literature, and aptness to teach in the churches. (1) The lecture and popular sermon, if the presbytery think proper, may be delivered in the presence of a congregation.
VI. That the most effectual measures ma, be taken to guard against the admission of insufficient men into the sacred office, (2) it is recommended, that no candidate, except in
(1) 1 Tim. iii. 2.-Apt to teach. See also the foregoing quotations.
(2) See figure (1), page 431.