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WHEN vacancies become so numerous in any presbytery that they cannot be supplied with the frequent administration of the word and ordinances, it shall be proper for such presbytery, or any vacant congregation within their bounds, with the leave of the presbytery, to apply to any other presbytery, or to any synod, or to the General Assembly, for such assistance as they can afford. And, when any presbytery shall send any of their ministers or probationers to distant vacancies, the missionary shall be ready to produce his credentials to the presbytery or presbyteries, through the bounds of which he may pass, or at least to a committee thereof, and obtain their approbation. And the General Assembly may, of their own knowledge, send missionaries to any part to plant churches, or to supply vacancies: and, for this purpose, may
any presbytery to ordain evangelists, or ministers without relation to particular churches: provided always, that such missions be made with the consent of the parties appointed; and that the judicatory sending them, make the necessary provision for their support and ward in the performance of this service.
I. It is equally necessary in the judicatories of the church, as in other assemblies, that there should be a moderator or president; that the business may be conducted with order and despatch.
II. The moderator is to be considered as possessing, by delegation from the whole body, all authority necessary for the preservation of order; for convening and adjourning the judicatory; and directing its operations according to the rules of the church. He is to propose to the judicatory every subject of deliberation that comes before them. He may propose what appears to him the most regular and speedy way of bringing any business to issue. He shall prevent the members from interrupting each other; and require them, in speaking, always to address the chair. He shall prevent a speaker from deviating from the subject; and from using personal reflections. He shall silence those who refuse to obey order. He shall prevent members who attempt to leave the judicatory without leave obtained from him. He shall, at a proper season, when the deliberations are ended, put the question and call the votes. If the judicatory be equally divided, he shall possess the casting vote. If he be not willing to decide, he shall put the question a second time; and if the judicatory be again equally divided, and he decline to
give his vote, the question shall be lost. In all questions he shall give a concise and clear state of the object of the vote ; and the vote being taken, shall then declare how the question is decided. And he shall likewise be empowered, on any extraordinary emergency, to convene the judicatory, by his circular letter, before the ordinary time of meeting.
III. The moderator of the presbytery shall be chosen from year to year, or at every meeting of the presbytery, as the presbytery may think best. The moderator of the synod, and of the General Assembly, shall be chosen at each meeting of those judicatories : and the moderator, or, in case of his absence, another member appointed for the purpose, shall open the next meeting with a sermon, and shall hold the chair till a new moderator be chosen.
EVERY judicatory shall choose a clerk, to record their transactions, whose continuance shall be during pleasure. It shall be the duty of the clerk, besides recording the transactions, to preserve the records carefully; and to grant extracts from them, whenever properly required : and such extracts, under the hand of the clerk, shall be considered as authentic vouchers of the fact which they declare, in any ecclesiastical judicatory, and to every part of the church.
OF VACANT CONGREGATIONS ASSEMBLING FOR
CONSIDERING the great importance of weekly assembling the people, for the public worship of God; in order thereby to improve their knowledge; to confirm their habits of wor. ship, and their desire of the public ordinances; to augment their reverence for the most high God; and to promote the charitable affections which unite men most firmly in society: it is recommended, that every vacant congregation meet together, on the Lord's day, at one or more places, for the purpose of prayer, singing praises, and reading the holy Scriptures, together with the works of such approved divines, as the presbytery, within whose bounds they are, may recommend, and they may be able to procure; and that the elders or deacons be the persons who shall preside, and select the portions of Scripture, and of the other books to be read; and to see that the whole be conducted in a becoming and orderly manner.
OF COMMISSIONERS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
1. THE commissioners to the General Assembly shall always be appointed by the presbytery
from which they come, at its last stated meeting, immediately preceding the meeting of the General Assembly; provided, that there be a sufficient interval between that time and the meeting of the Assembly,for their commissioners to attend to their duty in due season; otherwise, the presbytery may make the appointment at any stated meeting, not more than seven months preceding the meeting of the Assembly. And as much as possible to prevent all failure in the representation of the presbyteries, arising from unforeseen accidents to those first appointed, it may be expedient for each presbytery, in the room of each commissioner, to appoint also an alternate commissioner to supply his place, in case of necessary absence.
II. Each commissioner, before his name shall be enrolled as a member of the Assembly, shall produce from his presbytery, a commission under the hand of the moderator and clerk, in the following, or like form: viz. 6 The presbytery of
being met at
day of “ doth hereby appoint
bishop of the “congregation of
[or “ ruling elder in the congregation of “ the case may be;”] (to which the presbytery may, if they think proper, make a substitution in the following form) "or in case of his absence,
bishop of the congregation of [or
ruling elder in the congregation of
as the case may be:] to be a commissioner, on behalf of this presby