Imatges de pàgina
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sons are not competent as witnesses; and all who are competent are not credible.

II. A competent witness is one who ought to be admitted and heard. The competency of a witness may be affected by his want of the proper age; by a want of any of the senses essential to a knowledge of the matter which he is called to establish; by weakness of understanding; by infamy of character; by being under church censure for falsehood or perjury; by nearness of relationship to any of the parties; and by a variety of considerations which cannot be specified in detail.

III. Where there is room for doubt with regard to any of these points, either party has a right to challenge witnesses; and the judicatory shall candidly attend to the exceptions, and decide upon them.

IV. The credibility of a witness, or the degree of credit due to his testimony, may be af fected by relationship to any of the parties; by deep interest in the result of the trial; by general rashness, indiscretion, or malignity of character; and by various other circumstances; to which judicatories shall carefully attend, and for which they shall make all proper allowance in their decision.

V. A husband or wife shall not be compelled to bear testimony against each other in any judicatory.

VI. The testimony of more than one witness is necessary in order to establish any charge; yet if several credible witnesses bear testimony to different similar acts, belonging to the same

general charge, the crime shall be considered as proved.

VII. No witness, afterward to be examined, except a member of the judicatory, shall be present during the examination of another witness on the same case, unless by consent of parties.

VIII. To prevent confusion, witnesses shall be examined first by the party introducing them. then cross-examined by the opposite party: after which any member of the judicatory, or either party, may put additional interrogatories. But no question shall be put or answered, except by permission of the moderator.

IX. The oath or affirmation to a witness, shall be administered by the moderator, in the following or like terms: "You solemnly pro"mise, in the presence of the omniscient and "heart-searching God, that you will declare the "truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the "truth, according to the best of your knowledge, "in the matter in which you are called to wit"ness, as you shall answer it to the great Judge "of quick and dead."

X. Every question put to a witness shall, if required, be reduced to writing. When answered, it shall, together with the answer, be recorded, if deemed by either party of sufficient importance.

XI. The records of a judicatory, or any part of them, whether original or transcribed, if regularly authenticated by the moderator and clerk, or either of them, shall be deemed good and sufficient evidence in every other judicatory

XII. In like manner, testimony taken by one judicatory, and regularly certified, shall be received by every other judicatory, as no less valid than if it had been taken by themselves.

XIII. Cases may arise in which it is not convenient for a judicatory to have the whole, or, perhaps, any part of the testimony in a particular cause, taken in their presence. In this case a commission of the judicatory, consisting of two or three members, may be appointed, and authorized to proceed to the place where the witness or witnesses reside, and take the testimony in question, which shall be considered as if taken in the presence of the judicatory: of which commission, and of the time and place of their meeting, due notice shall be given to the opposite party, that he may have an opportunity of attending. And if the accused shall desire on his part to take testimony at a distance, for his own exculpation, he shall give notice to the judicatory of the time and place when it is proposed to take it, that a commission, as in the former case, may be appointed for the purpose.

XIV. When the witnesses have all been examined, the accused and the prosecutor shall have the privilege of commenting on their testimony to any reasonable extent.

XV. A member of the judicatory may be called upon to bear testimony in a case which comes before it. He shall be qualified as other witnesses are; and after having given his testi mony, he may immediately resume his seat as a member of the judicatory.

XVI. A member of the church summoned as a witness, and refusing to appear, or, having appeared, refusing to give testimony, may be censured for contumacy, according to the circumstances of the case.

XVII. The testimony given by witnesses, must be faithfully recorded, and read to them, for their approbation or subscription.

CHAPTER VII.

OF THE VARIOUS WAYS IN WHICH A CAUSE MAY
BE CARRIED FROM A LOWER JUDICATORY TO
A HIGHER.

I. In all governments conducted by men, wrong may be done, from ignorance, from prejudice, from malice, or from other causes. To prevent the continued existence of this wrong, is one great design of superior judicatories. And although there must be a last resort, beyond which there is no appeal; yet the security against permanent wrong will be as great as the nature of the case admits, when those who had no concern in the origin of the proceedings, are brought to review them, and to annul or confirm them, as they see cause; when a greater number of counsellors are made to sanction the judgments, or to correct the errors of a smaller; and, finally, when the whole church is called to sit in judgment on the acts of a part.

II. Every kind of decision which is formed in any church judicatory, except the highest, is

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subject to the review of a superior judicatory, and may be carried before it in one or the other of the four following ways.

SECTION I.

GENERAL REVIEW AND CONTROL.

I. IT is the duty of every judicatory above a church session, at least once a year, to review the records of the proceedings of the judicatory next below. And if any lower judicatory shall omit to send up its records for this purpose, the higher may issue an order to produce them, either immediately, or at a particular time, as circumstances may require.

II. In reviewing the records of an inferion judicatory, it is proper to examine, FIRST, Whether the proceedings have been constitutional and regular: SECONDLY, Whether they have been wise, equitable, and for the edification of the church; THIRDLY, Whether they have been correctly recorded.

III. In most cases the superior judicatory may be considered as fulfilling its duty, by simply recording, on its own minutes, the animadversion or censure which it may think proper to pass on records under review; and also by making an entry of the same in the book reviewed. But it may be that, in the course of review, cases of irregular proceedings may be found so disreputable and injurious as to demand the interference of the superior judicatory. In cases of this kind the inferior

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