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tion of the Classis; to which the Minister so called shall produce good ecclesiastical credentials of his doctrine and morals, and shall after publication in the church for three Sabbaths successively, as above mentioned, be installed under previous engagements, accompanied with prayer.
No Minister shall be at liberty to accept of the charge of any particular service as chaplain, unless he is previously admitted, and qualified according to the preceding articles; nor shall the acceptance of such service exempt him from being subject equally with others to the discipline of the church.
No person shall be ordained to the ministry of the word, without settling in some congregation, unless he be sent as a Missionary to churches under persecution, or employed to gather congregations, where none have as yet been established.
School-masters, mechanics, or others, who have not regularly studied, shall not be admitted to the office of the ministry, unless the best assurance be obtained of their singular talents, piety, humility, sobriety, good understanding, and discretion, together with the gifts of utterance. Whenever therefore such persons offer themselves for the ministry, the Classis having first obtained the approbation of Synod, shall previously examine them; and, according to their proficiency, shall enjoin a course of private exercises; after which, they shall be dealt with as shall be judged most conducive to edification.
Noviciates, popish priests, and monks, together with those who forsake other sects, shall not be admitted to
the service of the church without great care and circumspection, nor until after a certain time of previous trial.
A Minister, being lawfully called, may not forsake the church, or congregation where he is regularly settled, in order to accept a call elsewhere, without obtaining the previous consent of the Consistory and Deacons, and of those who have formerly borne those offices, together with the approbation of the Classis. And in like manner shall no church be permitted to receive him, before he has produced sufficient credentials of his regular dismission from the church, and Classis where he last officiated.
In like manner the Consistory, as representing the congregation, shall be bound to provide their Ministers with a decent support; and shall not forsake them without the knowledge, and decision of the Classis; who shall determine, on complaint made of a deficiency of support, whether such Minister shall be removed,
A Minister of the word being once lawfully called in manner before mentioned, is bound to the service of the sanctuary, as long as he liveth. Therefore he shall not be at liberty to devote himself to a secular vocation, except for great and important reasons, concerning which the Classis, shall enquire and determine.
If a Minister become incapable of performing the duties of his office, either through age, sickness, or otherwise, such Minister shall, notwithstanding, retain the honour and stile of his office, and be provided with an honourable support by the churches to which he
hath ministered; provision is in like manner to be made for the widows and orphans of Ministers in general.
Whenever it shall become necessary that Ministers, for the reasons beforementioned, or for any other cause, should desist for a time from the exercise of their office, (of which the Consistory is to judge) they shall, notwithstanding, continually be subject to the call of their congregations.
No Minister relinquishing the service of his own church, or being unattached to any particular congregation, shall be permitted to preach indiscriminately from place to place, without the consent and authority of the Synod, or Classis; in like manner no Minister may preach or administer the sacraments in any church other than his own, without the consent of the Consistory of that church.
The office of a Minister is to persevere in prayer, and the ministry of the word; to dispense the sacraments; to watch over his brethren the Elders and Deacons, as well as over the whole congregation; and lastly, in conjunction with the Elders, to exercise christian discipline, and to be careful, that all things be done decently and in good order.
Among the Ministers of the gospel, equality shall be preserved in their ministerial labours, and as far as possible in other things, agreeably to such arrangements as the Consistory, or if need be, the Classis shall make. A similar equality shall also be maintained among the Elders and Deacons.
The office of the Teachers or Professors of Theology, is to explain the holy scriptures, and vindicate the pure doctrines of the gospel against heresy and error.
The congregations shall endeavour to raise public funds for the support of Students in Theology.
In churches where a number of able Ministers are settled, the practice of discussing Theological theses shall be instituted, that by such exercises some may be prepared for the ministry; pursuing however, therein, the special appointment and order of the General Synod.
The Consistories in every congregation shall be careful to provide good School-masters, who are able, not only to instruct children in reading, writing, grammar, and the liberal sciences; but also to teach them the catechism, and the first principles of religion.
ᎪᎡᎢ . XXII.
The Elders shall be chosen by the suffrages of the Consistory, and of the Deacons in making this choice it shall be lawful, as shall best suit the situation of each church, either to nominate as many Elders, as shall be judged necessary, for the approbation of the members in full communion, and upon their being approved, and found acceptable, to confirm them with public prayers and engagements; or, to propose a double number, that the one half of those nominated may be chosen by the members, and in the same manner confirmed in their office. In either mode of election, the confirmation is to be agreeable to the form instituted for that purpose.
The office of Elders (besides what is common to them with the Ministers of the word, expressed in Art. xvi.) is, to take heed that the Ministers, together with their fellow-Elders and Deacons, faithfully discharge their respective duties; and also, before, or after the Lord's supper, as time and circumstances permit, and as shall be most for the edification of the congregation, to assist in performing visitations, in order particularly to instruct and comfort the members in full communion, as well as to exhort others to the regular profession of the christian religion.
The Deacons shall be chosen, approved, and confirmed, in the same manner as the Elders.
The office peculiar to the Deacons is, diligently to collect the alms and other monies appropriated for the use of the poor, and with the advice of the Consistory, cheerfully and faithfully to distribute the same to strangers, as well as to those of their own houshold, according to the measure of their respective necessities; to visit and comfort the distressed, and to be careful that the alms be not misused; of the distribution of which, they shall render an account in Consistory, at such time as the said Consistory shall determine, and in the presence of so many of the congregation as may choose to attend.
The Deacons shall endeavour to maintain a good correspondence with the Overseers of Poor-houses, and other public Almoners, in order that the alms may be the better distributed among those whose necessities are the greatest.